This op-ed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) first appeared in the Mansfield Enterprise on March 10, 2021.
The historic winter storm that hit our nation this February left millions of Americans huddled for warmth in their dark, cold homes. In northwest Louisiana, thousands of people lost power, even as temperatures fell so low that one Shreveport man lost his life to the cold.
This disaster proves how much our country depends on oil and gas. Sadly, President Joe Biden doesn’t seem to agree—he’s pursuing his misguided war on fossil fuels with a vengeance.
As soon as Biden stepped foot in the Oval Office, he fired the opening salvo in his war on American energy by revoking the permit of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The pipeline would have supported around 11,000 jobs and transferred 830,000 barrels of oil per day.
One week later, Biden announced a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal property. Since federal property accounts for almost a fourth of oil production and more than a tenth of natural gas production, this will cause catastrophic long-term damage to America’s energy industry and independence. It could also cost us 48,000 Louisiana jobs by 2022.
Then, while Louisianians were literally fighting to stay warm in an ice storm, the Biden Administration canceled an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico that would have involved 78 million acres. This move will kill more Louisiana energy jobs, rob our state of millions of dollars to spend on coastal restoration and conservation, and leave us less prepared to face future storms. Ironically, the Obama Administration initially approved the very lease sale that Biden just axed.
It seems Biden has learned nothing from our country’s recent experience. Over 3 million American homes and businesses suffered blackouts because of the storm. I support wind and solar energy, but they can’t stand on their own without oil and gas. Wind turbines freeze and don’t help when the wind doesn’t blow. Solar panels can’t do much when the sun doesn’t shine. What’s clear right now is that the greatest economy in all of human history can’t run without fossil fuels.
Biden’s anti-energy agenda cripples Louisiana, and it weakens the U.S. economy over the short and long haul. Fossil fuels are part of the lifeblood of our nation: Attacking them threatens the jobs of almost 1 million Americans who depend on the oil and gas industry for employment. Fossil fuels are the foundation of U.S. energy independence, and that independence is key to our national security. Louisiana oil and gas workers help Americans keep the lights on without relying on foreign regimes that don’t share U.S. values or priorities.
The oil and gas industry remains a key part of Louisiana. According to some estimates, this industry supports 249,000 jobs and accounts for $73 billion of our state’s GDP. What’s more, oil and gas revenues fund vital coastal restoration and storm protection efforts.
Biden’s actions are destroying Louisiana’s jobs and hurting Louisiana’s ability to help the rest of the country. In 2019 alone, our state supplied nine percent of U.S. gas production, and I’m proud of that. But Louisiana workers can’t do their jobs if Washington ties their hands at every turn.
If President Biden continues on this path, the next energy crisis could find Louisiana families without jobs or electricity.