Proposed ban on federal offshore oil leases spurs attacks from LMOGA, Garret Graves

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (Photography by Sam Barnes)

Louisiana’s oil and gas industry and U.S. Rep. Garret Graves are criticizing a new proposal introduced by House Democrats this week that would end the federal offshore oil-leasing program.

In addition to the oil lease ban, the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 would pursue other oceans-related solutions to climate change, creating new policies around what it calls the blue carbon ecosystems that help sequester greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would also provide $3 billion for coastal restoration projects, with priority given to projects that provide jobs for those affected by COVID-19 and assistance to low-income communities of color affected by environmental racism.

In a prepared statement, Graves argues the legislation “disguises knee-capping offshore energy production in the name of reforming federal ocean management.” He goes on to say the move would, among other things, eliminate funding for hurricane protection in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and increase the costs of HVAC systems and motor fuel.

“We are certain that the Russians, Saudis and Chinese are most appreciative of these members of Congress doing so much for their countries, but maybe we could actually focus on what is best for Americans. Just a thought,” Graves says. “This bill is consistent with the stupidity we have seen from the Natural Resources Committee as it relates to energy and climate policy.”

The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association also issued a statement decrying the proposal, which President Tyler Gray calls “backwards” and says would have “drastic impacts” on Louisiana’s pandemic-affected communities that depend on the industry’s tax revenues for local governments, environmental programs and coastal protection.

“It is a reckless act potentially impacting 20% of America’s domestic energy production and ultimately increasing our dependence on less reliable foreign energy sources while threatening the energy security we have fought so hard for,” Gray says.

Meanwhile, Lori Leblanc, executive director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team, calls the legislation “short-sighted,” saying it will hurt many Gulf Coast families who “depend on the industry’s high-wage jobs.”

Their statements opposing the measure come after the Louisiana Legislature passed a bipartisan resolution expressing its support for a defeat of the Oceans-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 and to protect future opportunities for oil and gas exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf. Read the full statement.