NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Gulf of Mexico is critical to the nation’s oil and gas production and GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana took some of his congressional colleagues offshore to underscore that point.
"It's about 90 miles south of the city of New Orleans and you're out there on a floating island literally in the Gulf of Mexico, they produce over 40,000 barrels of oil a day on this rig,” Scalise said.
The trip was part of Scalise’s offshore energy tour.
"I was able to share with my colleagues from other states just how we drill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the technology that’s used, the safety that’s involved,” Scalise told FOX 8 News following the tour.
Congresswoman Carol Miller of West Virginia and Rep. Denver Lee Riggleman of the state of Virginia, both Republicans, were part of the tour.
"I come from an energy state as well, West Virginia. We are a coal state, gas and oil and it helped me to see how important it is that we remain energy independent and how we can do it,” said Miller.
Riggleman said the experience was very informative.
"We have an opportunity for offshore energy production right now, so we got to see a rig, so we get to learn from Louisiana,” said Riggleman.
Scalise also talked to his colleagues about the disappearing coastline.
"As we’re flying over in that helicopter you quickly see from the Superdome, it’s not a minute later that you’re seeing water, the Gulf of Mexico intruding in because we’ve lost so much land, and I talk about how important it is for us to restore our coast and how the money from drilling is actually used to help restore the coast,” Scalise said.
He said the oil and gas industry still has some challenges.
"We have a lower price of oil, so there's not as much investment being made in the Gulf of Mexico, you're seeing a lot of companies that are struggling, we've had layoffs. It is starting to get more stabilized because we have a better energy policy,” Scalise said.
According to Scalise, royalty rates are getting more attention.
"The royalty rates that industry pays are really getting out of line with other countries and so we’re starting to see companies like Shell when they’re making investments of billions of dollars, some of that money is going to countries like Brazil, instead of the Gulf of Mexico and that’s hurting us and costing us jobs,” he said.