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Op-Ed: Gov. Landry’s comments on Louisiana energy ‘encouraging’

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Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry recently did something that American energy advocates have been waiting for: he spoke up. In a coordinated, collective, clear press event with several other pro-energy governors, Landry blasted the Biden administration’s executive actions for costing jobs and fueling higher prices nationwide.

That is indisputable.

Since taking office in 2021, Biden has signed countless executive orders and issued regulatory actions at the Departments of Energy, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, and we are all living with the result. Utility bills and food prices are higher. The cost of all goods and services are higher. Inflation is up nearly 20% since Biden took office. Our paychecks do not go as far, and nearly six in 10 (58%) are living paycheck to paycheck.

Biden wants to blame “corporate greed” or “Putin’s Price Hike” or have us differentiate between causality and coincidence, but the American people do not believe him. According to Gallup, confidence in Biden’s handling of the economy is among the lowest for any president since 2001.

Against this backdrop, Landry’s press event is most welcome, but words are not enough, and Gov. Landry is facing his own, Louisiana-centered, home-grown adversity. Yes, the edicts coming from Biden and Washington, D.C. have been disastrous for the energy industry. But so too are the attacks coming from Louisiana’s notorious trial lawyers.

The non-partisan Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse determined that litigation costs the state over $5 billion. That is a staggering figure, especially compared to the proposed state budget of $44 billion. More than 10% of the budget spent in court, lawyers being rewarding for lawyering, with nothing productive but remodeled kitchens and better pools. Billions that would go into investing further into the state, wasted on frivolity “because we can.”

During a trip to Texas, I met several oil and gas workers from Louisiana. “Soon there’ll be more of us here than there,” a man told me. There is little incentive to operate in a state where your actions are scrutinized for profit, where the reward is in punishing operations, where the money is in playing legal “gotcha” rather than in producing a valuable good.

The enemy is often within, and those are the hardest fights to have. I was once dressed down by a D.C. big shot, a Brooks-Brothers suit-wearing member of the good country club who had probably never been on a drill site, about a position my organization had taken and what it meant to “their profits.” I didn’t start my organization Power The Future for corporate profits, but for the protection of the jobs in rural America who generate those profits, and whose livelihood and community and dignity are often stepped on by people like him in D.C.

The incident taught me an important lesson: the people around you are not always your friends. Heck, Caesar knew all the people who stabbed him. They probably had drinks just days before. Landry, like many other politicians in Louisiana, knows these trial lawyers. They likely have tried to convince him that what they are doing somehow benefits the Louisiana economy, not just themselves.

But they are draining 10% of the state’s resources for personal profit and gain. Louisiana is not better, richer, cleaner, safer, healthier because of countless hours of “Your honor, may it please the court…” John Grisham Pelican Brief wannabees.

What should move the governor is Louisiana’s potential, and all of it is right there, ready for its moment in the sun. There is a reason people are flocking to Florida and Tennessee and Texas: economic opportunity, personal freedom, functioning government, and little corruption spearheaded by opportunists masquerading as environmental warriors. Louisiana has the resources, the people, the pride to be the next great state. It needs the political will.

I have yet to launch Power The Future in Louisiana. We are in other energy states, and I want to be there as well to fight the good fight on behalf of the men and women working in oil, gas, pipelines, fracking, coal, servicing, midstream, upstream, downstream. The industry supported more than 346,000 jobs – or 13% of total employment – and contributed over $54 billion toward the state’s economy in 2021.

These workers deserve champions: they power the economy, power our freedom, and power the future. I would love to set up shop in that great state, especially alongside a governor who fights for energy and energy workers.

Gov. Landry’s press conference was heartening. He said everything right about energy lifting people out of poverty and being a source of peace and stability. He said everything good about this industry. It is my hope he can move from words to actions, knowing the painful price he may pay, but knowing he turned Louisiana onto a course of prosperity for future generations.

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