In a new campaign TV ad launched Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is doubling down on his criticism of Joe Biden for saying that the country should “transition” away from oil and natural gas.
The former vice president and current Democratic presidential nominee made his comments during Thursday night’s presidential debate with President Donald Trump, saying that to develop a renewable energy industry to combat global warming and create millions of jobs, the U.S. should move away from fossil fuels over time.
Repeating comments he made to the right-wing website Breitbart, Cassidy, a Republican from Baton Rouge, makes it seem in the ad as if Biden wants to shut down the oil industry immediately.
“No oil? That means no jobs,” said an announcer. “That means a state depression.”
Cassidy, who is seeking a second term in the Senate, is expressing greater alarm over Biden’s comments than are oil industry executives.
“We don’t have to choose between reducing emissions and meeting energy needs. We can do both,” Tyler Gray, president and CEO of Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement Monday about Biden’s comments.
The oil and gas industry’s role in Louisiana’s economy has shrunk over time, but remains important. Before the pandemic slammed the state’s economy, the industry provided about 19% of the state’s economic activity, said Gregory Upton, a research professor at LSU’s Center for Energy Studies.
He estimates that Louisiana’s oil and gas industry currently employs 64,000 workers, down from 72,000 before the coronavirus hit and caused demand to plummet.
The Cassidy campaign is highlighting numbers from a recent report by the oil and gas association that oil and gas “supported” 250,000 jobs last year.
A review of the report shows that it includes both direct and indirect jobs, and that the direct jobs include gas station attendants and meter readers. Upton relies on government statistics for the industry that don’t include those other jobs.
Cassidy’s main Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 election is Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins.
Perkins said he supports Louisiana’s oil and gas industry and added, “renewable energies bring more better-paying, stable jobs, and we will diversify our economy so Louisiana can be on the forefront of the new American economy.”
Among the other 13 candidates, only Peter Wenstrup, a teacher in New Orleans, and Antoine Pierce, a small businessman and part-time actor in Baton Rouge, are also raising money and campaigning extensively.
In the TV ad, Cassidy also ties himself more directly to Trump, who is expected to handily win Louisiana’s eight electoral votes.
“President Trump and Bill Cassidy have a message to Joe Biden,” an announcer says as viewers see a photo of the two men together. “You won’t kill those jobs. You won’t kill those paychecks.”
The ad shows a photo of Biden as the announcer says, “To protect those jobs, defeat Joe Biden.”
The ad then shows Cassidy again with Trump. “Stand with President Trump,” the announcer says. A moment later, Trump says, “Bill Cassidy, he’s incredible.”