Oil, gas, and petrochemical refining have long been the backbone of Louisiana’s economy.
Now, state officials appear to be turning their backs on the fossil fuel industry in an effort to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order late in 2020 setting the lofty goal of making Louisiana carbon-neutral by 2050, and on May 7 Edwards announced Louisiana would be joining the U.S. Climate Alliance.
As the first Gulf State to join the Climate Alliance, Edwards committed Louisiana to, among other things, implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emission by at least 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and to accelerate the development of new policies to reduce carbon dioxide in the state.
Industry Cutting Emissions
Louisiana’s oil and gas operators are proud of the fact they have substantially reduced emissions for economic reasons even absent government mandates, says Tyler Gray, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, which is a member of Edwards’ Climate Initiative Task Force.
“Our members are committed to reducing emissions through the advancement of emerging technology,” said Gray. “In fact, our members have already made improvements to reduce emissions as the industry itself has invested $108.2 billion in greenhouse gas mitigating technologies.
“The United States has reduced its CO2 emissions by 12 percent while the rest of the world increased their CO2 emissions by 29 percent, with a 67 percent decline in emissions relative to production between 2000 and 2018,” Gray said. “The Consumer Energy Alliance released its Louisiana Emissions Analysis, which found emissions declined by 71 percent across the state since 1990, a remarkable feat given that Louisiana’s Gross Domestic Product surged 177 percent over the same period.”
Helps China, Hurts Louisiana
That Louisiana should forego developing its fossil fuel wealth to fight modest climate change is a foolish idea Edwards shares with President Joe Biden, says Jay Lehr, Ph.D. a senior policy analyst at The International Climate Science Coalition.
“Edwards it trying to ingratiate himself with the current Biden administration by throttling Louisiana’s the oil and gas industry,” Lehr said. “Obviously his future career is more important to him than the welfare of the people in his state.”
Edwards plan benefits liberal interests and foreign governments at the expense of Louisiana’s economy, says Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy at the American Energy Alliance.
“Louisiana has a proud history of energy production that has helped make the nation stronger,” said Kish. “This may play in San Francisco but for those who like air conditioning, jobs, food, and better opportunities for their children, this is wakeup call.
“Edwards’ plans help China and Russia but hurt Louisiana,” Kish said.
Kenneth Artz (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Dallas, Texas.