The LAGOP put out a press release yesterday on the subject of President Trump’s trip to the Lake Charles area to attend the ribbon-cutting of a multi-billion dollar LNG plant…
(Baton Rouge, LA) – President Donald Trump will get a first-hand look at the soon-to-be-opened Cameron LNG export terminal in Hackberry, Louisiana. The visit will be the President’s third trip to Louisiana since he took office in 2017, and comes just weeks after Vice President Mike Pence was in Louisiana to visit the site of one of the St. Landry Parish churches destroyed by arson.
“It is comforting to have President Trump and his administration standing with Louisiana through good times and bad,” said LAGOP Chairman Louis Gurvich. “The people of Louisiana appreciate a President who fights for them.”
During his first term, President Trump focused on unleashing American energy by cutting red-tape and eliminating burdensome regulations. The results were almost instantaneous. Last year, energy production spiked 8% from 2017, with more than half the growth being fueled by natural gas and oil.
Last month President Trump issued an Executive Order to promote energy infrastructure and economic growth. The President has set a clear example that support from the executive branch of government can be a tremendous catalyst for growth in the oil and gas industry.
Unfortunately, in Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards instead concentrated on maximizing legal fees for his campaign donors through new lawsuits against Louisiana oil and gas producers. “If the parishes don’t sue, the state will,” threatened Governor Edwards. According to the LSU Center for Energy Studies, legacy lawsuits have cost Louisiana thousands of wells and billions of dollars.
Now up for re-election, Governor Edwards has stopped talking about the lawsuits and shifted to vague talking-points and photo ops, hoping to hide his dismal economic record while taking credit for economic growth caused by President Trump.
“Governor Edwards should follow the President’s example and start supporting Louisiana’s oil and gas industry instead of extorting them with lawsuits,” commented LAGOP Executive Director Andrew Bautsch.
The performance of the energy sector in Louisiana is, as we already know, a sore spot for Gov. John Bel Edwards’ re-election. Two weeks ago at the oil and gas industry’s annual legislative day with several hundred industry players in attendance Edwards suffered perhaps the worst optics of the campaign so far when, with him sitting five feet away, Republican challenger Ralph Abraham pulled out a copy of the letter Edwards had written to the state’s coastal parish governments telling them if they didn’t file suits against oil and gas companies Edwards would do it for them, and promptly ripped it up saying “Never again” to raucous applause from the crowd.
This came after Edwards delivered a lengthy speech touting the importance of oil and gas to the state’s economy and bragging about increased rig counts, as though to explain to people in the industry how well it was doing. That was poorly received, as the industry knows very well how well it’s doing in Louisiana and how well it’s doing elsewhere in the country.
Today with Trump in Louisiana visiting an LNG export facility which essentially takes natural gas from the Haynesville Shale in the northwestern part of the state and processes it for export to Europe and Asia, Louisiana oil and gas is expressly the topic of conversation. And if Trump takes the opportunity to push the narrative of the LAGOP and the industry that Edwards’ lawsuits have greatly depressed economic activity in the sector in Louisiana, there won’t be any hiding the damage. Trump is, after all, considerably more popular than Edwards in Louisiana and he’s also more popular than Edwards with the state’s swing voters.
Veteran Louisiana pollster Bernie Pinsonat has pegged a Trump endorsement of either Abraham or Eddie Rispone over Edwards, who the president has so far treated more as an ally than an enemy on issues like criminal justice reform, as an eight to 10 point swing once Trump makes it. That isn’t likely to happen today, as Trump won’t endorse either Republican until he knows which one will be in the runoff. But he might very well begin making the case for why Louisiana voters should pick one of the two challengers, and oil and gas is one of the strongest arguments in that case.
The Edwards camp is right to be nervous about how today will go.