Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are a major reason for an economic disaster that did not happen.
Not too many years ago, the attack on Saudi Arabian refinery facilities might have been a cataclysm for the western world, with gasoline and energy prices generally skyrocketing. Bad as the attack was, the story of why the economic plunge did not happen had a lot to do with us.
In Louisiana, we have been a major contributor the national economy by producing oil and gas for more than a century. Oil and gas produced in federal waters, combined with the increased production onshore made possible by directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, have yielded big dividends for America’s energy security.
With those kinds of supply factors, an interruption in the Middle East simply does not have the worldwide economic impact that it once did. That’s not to say energy terrorism is a good thing, nor that large-scale disruption of oil in the Middle East would be a welcome development.
But the recent turmoil abroad underlines the advances of the energy industry in America and its nearby waters. Export of liquefied natural gas to international customers is another way that our role in the world economy has broadened in recent years.
Investment in exploration and technology has made the industry more efficient and environmentally friendly, despite significant accidents like the Deepwater Horizon spill. However much those advances are welcome, future demand for energy will grow, and constraints on production and delivery of the products of the energy and petrochemical industries remain challenges.
A recent national poll by The Economist and YouGov organization found a rather forbidding attitude toward drilling among the American people who are benefiting so much daily from energy production in Louisiana and the Gulf.
Majorities opposed opening most of the United States’ coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, as well as the very small — as a percentage of its land area — concession sought for drilling in the oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
We do not propose the policy espoused by the blunt slogan, “Drill, baby, drill.” But the riches near at hand, and the more efficient and reliable methods of taking them from the ground, are a deal that is too good for the American people to pass up.
The Trump administration and major energy companies should continue to work to persuade the public of the wisdom of growing America’s oil and gas production for the future, as well as large and forward-looking investments in alternative sources like wind and solar.
The better slogan: All of the above. That represents a solid economic future for Louisiana.