Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Let’s play “what if”. What if we get a chance to do do it right the second time. What if we become an energy leader. We have that chance.

What if Louisiana decided to extend the same huge tax breaks, state agency support and educational effort it has given to the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors for 80 years, to the offshore wind energy industry? What if Louisiana created a master plan to use the engineering and construction resources that made it a giant in offshore oil and gas to become the national hub for the renewable energy that will be employing tens of thousands of highly paid workers not just for a few months, but forever? What if Louisiana could raise its standard of living while also helping the world reduce the greenhouse gas emissions driving the acceleration in sea level rise that its own scientists and government agree could, if not dramatically checked, flood its bottom third before the end of the century? This isn’t some idler’s daydream. It’s a real opportunity that can become a life-saving reality for Louisiana — but only if the people you send to the state Legislature act in your best interests.

This is not a day dream but a real opportunity – if the legislature takes the chance and does the right thing, acting in our best interests. This is how we do it.

Two years ago the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which regulates offshore oil and gas development, produced a study showing the shallow water Gulf of Mexico had the wind energy potential to supply half the nation’s electricity needs. Windmills create about 4,400 jobs during construction and keep 140 operators employed forever. With thousands of windmills needed, the potential job market is immense. But the report’s real eye-opener for Louisiana: Our state’s long experience building and maintaining thousands of offshore oil and gas wells means it has the workforce already in place to make that transition happen — a workforce undergoing dramatic layoffs as the world shifts away from fossil fuels. Indeed, offshore wind projects in Europe and in the U.S. are already using Louisiana builders and boat captains. Last year Gov. John Bel Edwards took the mandatory first step to put Louisiana in the driver’s seat of this change by requesting BOEM to create a Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, the first meeting of which will take place next month.

We have the time as it will be at least ten years until windmills will be working in the Gulf. So with this time to prepare – will we be become the Texas of wind energy or be a side show as we are now in that position with oil.

“Your Legislature will play the key role in deciding whether Louisiana becomes the national leader in this industry,” said Jamie Simmons, program manager with the Southeastern Wind Coalition, a nonprofit lobbying for wind energy. “The projected national supply chain just for what is in the pipeline nationally today — not counting Gulf development — is estimated at $140 billion. “If Louisiana started recruiting offshore wind companies and developers now, they could capture not just a large percentage of those job projected, but also a tremendous amount of manufacturing jobs to support projects all across the country. “Louisiana has the very near-term opportunity to become the manufacturing hub not just for the Gulf of Mexico, but for the whole country. But the state Legislature has to act now.” So, what if our Legislature spent less time trying to save the shrinking oil and gas business and more time investing in an industry with unlimited growth potential?

We have this chance. Will the legislature will act? We need to contact them and keep up the pressure.

A Second Chance to Lead in Energy – If we Take It
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