Experts: Louisiana Should Move On From Its Oil Obsession
Both economic and environmental experts say it's time for Louisiana to embrace green energy
In spite of the Louisiana congressional delegation’s outrage regarding President Biden’s energy policy, oil hasn’t been the economic driver across the state that it once was. Employment in the state’s oil and gas industries peaked in 2014 and demand is steadily dropping. In 2020, Louisiana lost another 7,500 oil and gas industry jobs - jobs that show no signs of coming back even with world oil prices rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.
However, as more companies across the country begin to develop plans for reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades, Lousiana could cash in big. The state’s largest utility, Entergy, is already buying power from a Capital Region Solar’s 50-megawatt solar facility near Port Allen in West Baton Rouge Parish. The company already plans to increase the farm’s capacity to 300 megawatts of solar power by 2023, and Entergy is seeking proposals from other companies to supply even more.
Offshore wind production could prove even more promising. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, offshore wind platforms in the Gulf of Mexico could produce more than double the energy needed by all of the Gulf states combined. Investing in this energy could help Louisiana’s manufacturing industry, which is perfectly positioned to transition. The same factories that make parts for offshore oil platforms could easily make them for offshore wind platforms or even solar farms.
Unfortunately, Louisiana’s obsession with preserving the status quo means it’s already behind when it comes to embracing green energy and the jobs it could create. Texas has had a regulatory mandate in place to promote the development of renewable energy since 1999 and reached its goal of 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in 2010. Meanwhile, Louisiana is still one of only 13 states without such a mandate.
Of course, focusing on renewable energy makes environmental sense as well. Louisiana is already home to the country’s first climate change refugees and continues to lose land at an alarming rate. Climate change is also beginning to affect the state’s weather; after a record-breaking hurricane season last year, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be even worse. Storm recovery already costs the state billions of dollars each year; eventually, that money is going to run out.
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