Congressional members get a taste of life on a Louisiana oil platform
Louisiana’s Steve Scalise pushes back against arguments U.S. must steer clear of new energy production
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and seven other members of Congress took a 168-mile helicopter trip to the Hess Corporation’s Stampede oil and gas production platform Tuesday for a taste of life offshore.
“When you come here and see this and you walk a major platform like this, it really transforms the conversation,” said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, who led the trip into the Green Canyon of the Gulf of Mexico.”
Scalise brought along a receptive audience of relatively new Republican members of Congress.
“It’s an incredibly impressive operation, just the technology in putting this together,” said Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming.
Scalise has taken some Democrats on these annual trips in the past as he pitches Louisiana oil and gas to his colleagues.
“There are people that are trying to shut this down, trying to end this industry, which would be a huge mistake because it would only make us more dependent on foreign countries,” Scalise said.
While oil allies frequently criticize President Joe Biden’s energy policy, the administration recently drew the ire of some Democrats for approving a huge Alaska oil project.
U.S. oil production remains near historic highs, but Scalise points to the first couple of years of the Biden era, which saw no oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
He argues that will mean less production five years from now.
“When we send signals that we’re shutting down American energy, the price skyrockets all over the globe and it hits hard-working families here at home.”
This field trip featured everything from a tour of living quarters and the platform’s gym to safety and emergency procedures, always a sensitive topic following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
“Safety is our absolute top priority,” said Gerbert Schoonman, Senior Vice President, Production for Hess. “That’s why we’re using the most modern equipment and that’s why we’re always making sure that we have people that are competent, that we’re working with contractors that have all their certifications in place to make sure a situation like Macondo never repeats itself.”
The U.S. bans oil production along most of its coast, including Florida and Rep. Aaron Bean’s district which is heavily dependent on tourism.
“I don’t know if this right off the coast would be a fit for Florida,” Bean said. “But here, again, I’m more surprised by how clean it is. America needs more energy produced right here at home.”
The members of Congress flew over a rapidly-disappearing Louisiana coast, ravaged by a series of hurricanes.
Climate activists warn the country must find energy alternatives.
“This argument is where the science matters a lot,” Scalise said. ”If carbon emissions are what somebody is most concerned about, why would you shut down energy in the country that has the cleanest and lowest carbon emissions and make us more dependent on countries that don’t have standards?”
One of the ironies of Louisiana’s effort to rebuild its coast is the oil industry has served as the primary source of funding.
That includes royalties oil and gas companies pay the federal government for leases and the billions of dollars from court settlements involving the 2010 Gulf oil spill on BP’s Macondo well.
“For us in Louisiana, it’s life or death that we restore the coast,” Scalise said.
The BP dollars run out starting in 2032.
Currently, the government pays coastal states 37.5 percent of the money from offshore royalties. Scalise is pushing to raise that to the same 50 percent share inland states receive for production on federal lands.
The U.S. House recently passed Scalise’s legislation that would increase the percentage, and for the first time, grant coastal states a share of future royalties from wind production.
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