Louisiana Congressman: Misguided policies threaten job creation
By Congressman Steve Scalise (LA-1)
At a time when people are asking “where are the jobs,” thousands of high-paying jobs are waiting to be created in America’s energy industry. Jobs can be created today by further developing America’s natural resources such as oil and natural gas and expanding on new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing or “fracing,” a critical tool in tapping the huge potential of our country’s natural gas supply.
Instead of a comprehensive national energy policy that would create jobs, this administration and the liberals running Congress are trying to ram through a “cap and trade” national energy tax that would ship millions of jobs overseas and raise energy prices on American families. And these same people continue to threaten our energy security through attempts to put an end to critical technologies like fracturing.
In Louisiana, the energy industry is among our top employers; and we are proud to be one of the largest producers of domestic energy in the United States. Louisiana has the second-largest refining capacity in the U.S., with 2,300 active oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and 19 crude oil refineries. More than 80 percent of the nation’s offshore oil and natural gas is produced off our coast.
And, more recently, our state has seen huge successes in the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana. By using environmentally sound energy production technologies such as fracturing and horizontal drilling, we are safely unlocking huge amounts of clean-burning, job-creating natural gas. In fact, thanks to fracturing, which has been safely used for 60 years, Louisiana’s energy industry created almost 33,000 jobs and generated $3.2 billion into our state’s economy.
Unfortunately, this economic activity and job creation is threatened by misguided Washington policies such as “cap and trade” and billions in new, burdensome taxes on homegrown energy exploration.
Some in Washington are even working to strip energy-producing states of their ability to regulate fracturing. Turning this authority over to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would threaten energy production altogether and could severely hurt job creation and economic activity at a time when we absolutely need it.
Louisiana’s Legislature formally urged Congress to ensure that fracturing remains tightly regulated by the states, as it has for 60 years. A number of other energy-producing states that share Louisiana’s common-sense approach to allow states to effectively regulate fracturing have passed similar resolutions.
Turning the regulation of fracturing over to the EPA is not only unnecessary but would represent nothing more than a one-size-fits-all power grab by those who oppose responsible, 21st-century American energy production. Louisiana, along with virtually every other energy-producing state, already has comprehensive laws in place to protect drinking water sources and ensure that shale gas production does not compromise the environment.
Because of these effective state protections — and the commitment from industry — fracturing has been used in more than 1 million wells throughout the U.S. without a single case of groundwater contamination. Not one in 60 years. The EPA confirmed this fact at a recent Senate hearing. And just weeks ago, a top EPA drinking-water official said, “State regulators are doing a good job overseeing hydrofracking, and there’s no evidence the process causes water contamination.”
Fracturing is not only a safe way of increasing our nation’s domestic energy supply, but it is a proven way to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, create good American jobs and keep energy prices stable for struggling families, senior citizens and small businesses.
The American people deserve common-sense solutions that will help redirect our weakened economy. We should promote ideas that create jobs and harness — not stifle — the American ingenuity that has helped us become the greatest nation in the world.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise represents Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Energy and Environment subcommittee. His Web site is www.scalise.house.gov.
NOTE: Congressman Scalise’s post also appeared in today’s Shreveport (LA) Times. Click HERE to view the column on-line.