As America’s allies, both eastern and western, find themselves dealing with Iranian intransigence that threatens their stability, Americans can thank the policies of Republican Pres. Donald Trump that they avoid this – while Louisianans can feel grateful that their Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and his fellow travelers have had limited impact in propagating anti-oil and gas policies that would have made America more vulnerable.
Last week, Iran began detaining tankers travelling the Straits of Hormuz. Over a fifth of the world’s oil output makes its way along this narrow path adjacent to Iran, which currently endures crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S. over its nuclearization policies. Trump spearheaded this when he revoked an agreement that put the U.S. at a disadvantage in halting this nuclearization pledged by Democrat former Pres. Barack Obama (whom Edwards supported as a delegate at the party’s national convention).
In protest, Iran has seized these ships of other western and local countries, which depend upon oil importation and exportation to make their economies run. Not long ago, that oil could have been bound for the U.S., which at one time imported large quantities of oil.
But not now. Policy choices made by Trump and backed by the previous Republican-led Congress put America on the path to energy independence, something which it now enjoys for the first time since the aftermath of World War II. We are now a net exporter of energy, and We don’t find ourselves held hostage to the whims of foreign powers and their interactions among each other, where geopolitical considerations surrounding energy once posed a looming threat to the American economy or caused it to subsume to the dictations of other states.
However, one of the potential impediments to realizing this freedom has been Edwards. Since taking office in 2016, Edwards has shunned any direct harsh words against the oil and gas industry, but in deeds has acted to discourage energy production.
One way has been his support of tax policies that would inhibit production. Besides general sales tax increase that hit every producer and consumer equally hard, more specifically Edwards wished to change the tax code that would have disproportionately affected businesses including oil and gas and proposed stripping some tax exceptions that specifically would have targeted the energy sector.
Another way involves the decision-making process to invoke local property tax exemptions. Edwards changed state procedures to allow significant local governments to have a veto power over granting such waivers. His new regime permits special interests with a grudge against the industry and/or local political elites wanting to transfer wealth to their constituencies to impose extra costs on new or expanded infrastructure, which often includes projects undertaken by the oil and gas sector.
Finally, Edwards has encouraged governments to file legacy lawsuits against producers for alleged violations of regulations that created environmental degradation. Knowing that he couldn’t make a Republican-led Legislature or GOP attorney general undertake legal action along these lines, he assembled a team in-house to prod parishes into filing such suits, which often put a bullseye on current producers over activities that occurred long before they came onto the scene and/or hadn’t been forbidden by the state, discouraging exploration and production in the present.
At least Edwards hasn’t publicly gone off the deep end against the energy sector, as have some wacko environmentalists such as those who tried physically to impede the building of the Bayou Bridge pipeline. And he does cheerlead for the industry when he talks up the state’s down-in-the-dumps economy.
Yet actions speak louder than words. Edwards’ policy preferences that he has tried to implement overall harm the energy industry and would have slowed progress towards energy independence, setting up the country for manipulation by foreign powers with interests inimical to our own. Bad enough that his attitudes have dampened Louisiana’s economic progress by needless threats to a sector which employs 15 percent of its workers.