Flanked by six other members of congress, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise sat down with local oil industry and port representatives Tuesday to hear the issues facing the industry.
The roundtable served as an introduction for six of the Republicans’ freshman House members from outside Louisiana: North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, Kansas Rep. Ron Estes, Texas Rep. Lance Gooden, West Virginia Rep. Carol Miller, Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff and Virginia Reps. Denver Riggleman and Ben Cline
Scalise said his fellow representatives flew down Monday and spent Tuesday touring an offshore drilling platform before sitting down for the discussion.
Board members from the South Central Industrial Association and the Greater Lafourche Port Commission were in attendance, sharing their experiences and family histories in the oil industry. Capital One Bank, the Offshore Marine Services Association and Shell Oil Company representatives also joined them at the table.
The conversation focused on how Congress could help make drilling in the Gulf of Mexico more competitive and draw more companies back to the area.
Representing Shell, Joni Tuck said the company takes the royalty rates into consideration when deciding where to invest. She said that’s part of why Brazil is so attractive to the company.
The legislators asked for Tuck and Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association board member Lori LeBlanc to send them data comparing the United States’ rate to others in the world.
LeBlanc had asked the representatives to look into royalty rate reform.
“Do it in a way where you can bring those multi-billion dollar investments in the U.S. versus going to other countries,” she said.
Several SCIA members called for the legislators to continue working toward deregulating the bank and oil industries.
Scalise noted that when they were talking about deregulation, he was looking at the regulation that was designed not to improve the industry but to inhibit drilling.
“Regulations can actually be counterintuitive to what they’re supposed to do and that is to create a fair and safe environment for everybody,” he said.
Organization representatives also stressed the ties between the oil industry and coastal restoration and tried to explain the close relationship.
Deputy Port Director Davie Breaux said the service port exemplifies the effect of both public and private investment to maintain infrastructure and build the land for it. He said the relationship isn’t normal.
“But that’s what makes us unique,” said Breaux.
Port Commission Board President Chuckie Cheramie, whose family has been in the industries since the 1940s, said the commission works hard to create new land to help the state.
Scalise said he was pushing for the expansion of GOMESA – the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act – to include any state interested in allowing offshore drilling, like Virginia. He said the federal government needs to use the revenue-sharing incentives in the act to encourage states to produce energy.
All of the House members present stressed their commitment to keeping the country “energy independent.”
In his own introduction, Kustoff noted that the energy industry was bound to be an important topic in the 2020 presidential campaign, predicting it will be “front and center.”
“Your livelihood is going to be part of the debate,” he said. “We’re on your side.”
Throughout the roundtable, jokes were made about the Green New Deal – the controversial resolution on cutting carbon emissions pushed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Offshore Marine Services Association representative Aaron Smith said the country will need the oil and gas industries to start using more renewable energy.
“There is no green without black,” said Smith. “Everything it will take to build up that infrastructure comes from down here in Louisiana.”
Posted on Fri, April 19, 2019
by By Halle Parker Daily Comet Staff Writer