BRIGGS: Turning A Rivalry Between Energy And The Environment Into A Partnership

In a recent address, President Donald J. Trump took a bold step and declared America’s dual role as a world leader in the energy sector and in environmental stewardship. “For years, politicians told Americans that a strong economy and a vibrant energy sector were incompatible with a healthy environment. And that’s wrong because we’re proving the exact opposite. A strong economy is vital to maintaining a healthy environment. When we innovate, produce, and grow, we’re able to unleash technologies and processes that make the environment better,” President Trump said during that nationally televised speech in July 2019.

Our Commander in Chief’s remarks were not reflective of a naive, eager vision for the far distant future, but a proud display of all that the Trump administration has already done to support environmental stewardship and enable better management of the vast natural resources our nation has uniquely been blessed with.

His remarks struck a chord. For years, Americans have been fed half-truths and presented with a false choice between a sustainable environment or a robust energy sector. Americans were told that sunshine, blue skies, and clean water are the adversary of jobs and opportunity. That is simply not the case. Thanks to advancements in today’s technology, not only can you have both economic success and a healthy environment, but a strong economy is needed to ensure a pristine environment.

In America, unemployment has reached its lowest rate in half a century; our production of energy has risen to the point where we are a net exporter of energy for the first time, and yet, our nation’s energy emissions have declined more than any other country on earth. The emissions are expected to drop even lower in the remainder of the year and in 2020.  Since the election of President Trump, there have been more than 6 million new jobs and equally impressive, our air pollution is now six times lower than the global average.

This synchrony between the energy industry and the environment is working across the United States, and it is also proving successful in Louisiana. In April of 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took its next step in the Clean Air Act process to implement the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In this phase, the EPA found that in all areas of Louisiana, the state had reached environmental attainment of the NAAQ standards.

While small activist groups march on Baton Rouge and block pipelines, industry is moving forward to protect the environment. In the 2019 legislative session, with the help of oil and gas industry supporter Rep. Raymond Crews (R-Bossier City), legislation was passed that enacted into law another environmentally-friendly way to dispose of excess carbon produced during the process of oil and gas extraction. The Secretary of the Department of Environmental Equality, Dr. Chuck Brown, stated during a speech to Marathon Petroleum, “With all of the industry in Louisiana, we have the cleanest air since the industrial revolution.”

Meanwhile, Louisiana continues to increase its industrial outputs. Over the next decade, the United States will be one of the three most significant exporters of LNG in the world, and thanks to our vast pipeline infrastructure, much of that LNG will flow through the Pelican State. Our pipelines have allowed Louisiana to not only to succeed where other states have failed, with regard to shut-in production, but they have made our roads and railways safer and lowered risk for our environment by moving energy material through pipe.

Let the endless proof from regulatory agencies, the economy, and your own eyes debunk once and for all the myth that a strong economy, a healthy environment and a vibrant energy sector are incompatible.

Time and time again, we see members of the oil and gas sector stepping up to the plate and working to make Louisiana a better place to live, work and play. At the federal level, President Trump has stopped the war waged on energy producers, and this has allowed us to not only create more jobs and opportunities for Americans everywhere, but helped to create a better environment for generations to come.  It is only through this American spirit of cooperation and collaboration that the energy and environmental sectors can and will thrive together.

Gifford Briggs is President of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association 

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