If there ever were a time in U.S. history when the phrase “elections have consequences” would be most accurate, now would be that time. The contrast between the past and current United States Presidents could not be more different. Under President Obama, we experienced a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, endless regulations and negative rhetoric.
Under President Trump, we have seen a reawakening of the oil and gas industry across the nation. Approval processes have become more streamlined, allowing businesses to go forth unhindered by big government policies, and a push is being made for U.S energy dominance.
Louisiana is heading into another election year, but this one will be unlike any other our state has ever seen. With the installment of term limits, we expect to see an increase in voter activity during the 2019 election cycle in Louisiana. Many expect the 2019 election cycle to be not only one of the most expensive elections but one of the most pivotal elections we have experienced.
So what all is at stake for the 2019 election year?
Before we get into that, Plaquemines Parish has their Council and Parish President up for election in 2018. This parish is ground zero for the coastal lawsuits. It is important for those inside and out of Plaquemines Parish to pay close attention to these elections.
The 2019 election cycle will see one of the most significant legislative turnovers in Louisiana’s history. Along with the Governor’s bid for re-election, 66 legislative members are term-limited along with a handful of others who are leaving office seeking other elected offices or are merely choosing to end their career in the Capitol.
The implications of this election cannot be overstated. The next round of legislators will not only be charged with redistricting in 2020 but possibly 2030 as well. A skilled legislator can impact House and Senate lines and change the political landscape of the entire state. National dollars are pouring into states to shape legislatures to the political makeup of their choosing. The thinking is that if you control the legislature, you control the lines. If you control the lines, you can influence policy for years to come.
For the oil and gas industry, these elections can be a turning point. Decades of abusive lawsuits driving investment out of South Louisiana and the highest severance tax rate on oil in the nation, all can be addressed, inviting investment and jobs back into our communities that need them. 2019 will also be a key year for the development of the Austin Chalk. As this play comes into prominence, we need to be sure that the people we elect are supportive of the Chalk’s development.
The stakes in this election cycle are high, but the reward can be even greater. To reap that reward citizens and business must answer the call and fulfill their civil duties to participate in the process. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain.
Gifford Briggs is President of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association