GEST Letter to Interior Encourages Continued Gulf Energy Leasing & Development

Apr 15, 2021

The Gulf Economic Survival Team (GEST) submitted comments today to Secretary Haaland in response to the Department of Interior’s comprehensive review of the federal oil and gas program called for in Executive Order 14008. The comments from GEST urge the Administration and the Department to resume offshore oil and natural leasing in the Gulf of Mexico immediately and work collaboratively with the States, the communities, and the industry to develop science-based climate change solutions that will allow our energy workers to continue to produce American energy for many generations to come.

Excerpts from the comments submitted by GEST Executive Director Lori LeBlanc:

GEST Supports Community Stakeholder Collaboration
While the Department’s Forum on March 25th provided valuable insight regarding the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leasing process and other stakeholders, GEST was immensely disappointed that Gulf Coast community stakeholders were not invited to participate in the Forum. As such, throughout the Department’s leasing program evaluation, we strongly urge the Department to engage and collaborate with state and local community leaders in Gulf Coast states who are directly impacted by the current offshore leasing ban and could incur additional impacts if federal offshore leasing policy changes negatively impact the offshore industry.

Offshore Energy Industry is Critical to Local Communities
According to economist Dr. Loren C. Scott’s latest study, “The Energy Sector: Still A Giant Economic Engine for the Louisiana Economy”, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes have more than 5,400 energy employees working at an average annual wage of $81,402 and a contribution of more than $24 million in local property taxes. The energy industry supports more than $440.5 million in annual wages for employees in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes.

More than 200 companies utilize Port Fourchon in servicing offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, carrying equipment, supplies and personnel to offshore locations. Port Fourchon’s tenants provide services to more than 90% of all deepwater rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and roughly 45% of all shallow water rigs in the Gulf. An estimated 15,000 people per month are flown to offshore locations supported by Port Fourchon.

Offshore Energy Production Supports Critical Coastal Restoration & Levee Protection
In Louisiana, the State is projecting to receive $389 million of GOMESA revenues over the next 3 years to fund the State Coastal Master Plan. These investments will provide flood protection for specific projects. Projects such as the Bayou Lafourche Pump Station, which provides safe drinking water for over 300,000 residents in a four-parish area, the Bayou Chene flood gate, which protects residents in six parishes, as well as investments in levee system improvements to enhance the climate resilience of coastal communities are all funded by these revenues.