With an eye toward inching advocacy contra to energy and petrochemical industry development, the Louisiana Propane Gas Association (LPGA) has signed on as an inaugural member of a coalition launched to support oil and gas. Allies of the burgeoning energy economy have founded Louisianians for Energy, a grass-roots effort aimed at defending development and the myriad economic benefits it creates for Bayou State communities.
Louisiana Propane Gas Association coalition supports propane industry, oil and gas

Louisianians for Energy comments that the energy industry has long been a pillar of the state economy, providing good-paying jobs, generating millions of dollars in revenue for local economies, and producing the energy resources that consumers across the country rely upon each and every day. Noted is that the industry employs more than 100,000 Louisianians, as reported in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy and Employment Report.

“The Louisiana Propane Gas Association is proud to be a part of this coalition,” says Randy Hayden, LPGA executive director. “The propane industry in our state relies on continued support for the energy industry to succeed, and we’re thrilled that Louisianians are showing their support.”

The association maintains that in order to continue operating safely and efficiently, Louisiana’s energy industry requires timely investments in its infrastructure, and that underground pipelines are not only the most efficient means of transporting energy resources, they are the safest, and ensure the well-being of Louisiana’s communities and environment.

“Louisianians for Energy represents an important voice in our state,” Hayden added. “In Louisiana, fostering a climate for economic growth starts with the energy industry—from the transportation of oil and gas to refining operations along the Gulf Coast, oil and gas operations are a catalyst for economic activity in the state.”

A coalition-issued press release asserts that the issuance of a preliminary injunction against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline by District Court judge Shelly Dick in late February harms Louisiana workers and the economy. The injunction delayed construction “on an important piece of our state’s infrastructure. A delay in construction could result in significant economic impacts on the region, preventing millions of dollars and thousands of jobs from coming to hardworking Louisianians in the Atchafalaya Basin.”

“In Louisiana, for years oil and gas was insulated from criticism,” Hayden outlines. “Energy was seen as a mainstay, a cornerstone, of the economy and everyone supported it. Now the industry is under attack. We are now looking at lawsuits against oil and gas, particularly in coastal communities.” He adds there are many causes of coastal erosion, as is being limelighted by community and environmental groups—namely weather and onshore activities. “It’s a complicated issue, but there is no good reason for only one group, the energy industry, being targeted for blame, and to pay for, coastal restoration. People take note of how the state treats you, and maybe they will think twice about doing business here. They certainly can do business elsewhere.”

The coalition highlights that Louisiana is at the heart of oil and natural gas production. With countless Louisianians employed in the state’s energy sector, their future relies on continued job opportunities. From January to June 2017, Louisiana added an average of 3300 jobs a month and doubled the national average job growth in the second quarter last year, according to State of Working Louisiana. Who’s to thank for the state’s job growth boom? Construction in the energy sector. Louisiana’s construction industry grew by 15,500 jobs from June 2016 to June 2017. That 11.1% growth in construction jobs mostly stemmed from the energy-sector growth being lifted by the development of new liquefied natural gas facilities.

But even those figures do not fully represent the extent of the energy sector’s impact on the state, the coalition says. According to the U.S. Energy and Employment Report, Louisiana has about 113,217 traditional energy workers statewide, 73,609 of whom are in the fuel sector. “Those jobs help thousands of hardworking Louisianians put food on the table, pay their bills, and send their children to school.”

The coalition draws attention to new shipping capability in the state that is creating economic opportunities. Eighteen miles offshore from Port Fourchon, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) recently completed its first very large crude carrier (VLCC) loading operation. The operation demonstrated LOOP’s ability to fully load a China-bound VLCC, making it, to date, the only U.S. port to have the capability.

“LOOP bringing this capability online is the latest step in the development of Louisiana’s oil and gas industry, and serves as an important milestone for our state’s position in the American energy market,” the group comments. “Louisiana is already uniquely positioned to be a major shipping hub for our natural gas and oil markets, and the inclusion of LOOP’s VLCC loading operation provides an expanse of new possibilities for the Pelican State.”

“We are pleased to offer the enhanced capability to safely and efficiently load the largest cargo vessels in the world with crude oil for export,” said Tom Shaw, LOOP president. “There could not be a better time to offer this service as domestic production surpasses 10 million barrels per day in the ever-dynamic global crude oil market.”

Louisianians for Energy underscores that with American production of crude oil, natural gas, and other energy products rising every month, the ability to transport larger and larger amounts of natural resources becomes more important. Further, the export-import business is poised to provide sustained economic benefits for Louisiana and its people.

“In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, and to maintain the momentum we’ve built to this point, it’s vital that we ensure our energy infrastructure is sufficient as well,” the coalition emphasizes. “Projects to expand our pipeline network, like the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, become even more important with developments like LOOP’s new export ability.” The group underlines that “we’re in a special position right now in Louisiana, and we can’t let this opportunity slip by. Building additional, safe energy infrastructure like Bayou Bridge is a surefire way to help our state economy, while creating jobs and improving lives.”

At press time, relief from the district court ruling was achieved. A divided federal appeals court ruled that construction could proceed through the Atchafalaya Basin. The 163-mile line is designed to carry crude oil between Lake Charles and St. James. Fisherman and environmental groups argued that the pipeline is causing “irrevocable harm” to wetlands. Further, that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not required adequate environmental projects to offset the line’s installation impacts. The developer, Bayou Bridge LLC (Dallas), a joint venture of Phillips 66, Sunoco Logistics, and Energy Transfer Partners LP, argue that work delays cost nearly a million dollars a day, threatening construction jobs and endangering the environment by leaving unfilled trenches and other half-completed work. Attorneys for project opponents, among them Earth Justice, pledge to seek additional appeals in order to derail the pipeline project.

Louisianians for Energy affirms that its effort is to defend the oil and gas economy and jobs. “Energy is vital to Louisiana, providing family-supporting jobs for generations. We believe that investing in Louisiana’s energy infrastructure creates employment and economic opportunities that benefit residents across the state.”

The group adds that “ensuring the long-term safety and reliability of the energy infrastructure network requires new investments, but must accompany ‘protecting our rivers, bayous, and deltas’ as a priority for all Louisianians. Constructing new and safe energy infrastructure both lessens the environmental impacts of transportation and ensures the long-term safety of our energy transportation network. Partnerships with Louisiana businesses are essential for pipeline projects to be built on time, in a safe manner, and to maximize Louisiana knowhow.”

“The message is that the energy industry is wanted in Louisiana,” says LPGA’s Hayden. “As the same time, we remain environmentally conscious. Louisiana knows how to do pipelines in sensitive areas, better than anyone, and along with every state we are involved with, and support, renewable and alternative fuels that will serve us in the future.”

Louisianians for Energy counts the Louisiana Propane Gas Association and more than 2300 online supporters among its initial members. In coming weeks, the organization will announce the addition of new members. More information is available online at http://louisianiansfornergy.org/, on Twitter @LAforEnergy, and on Facebook at facebook.com/LAforEnergy. —John Needham