By Lori LeBlanc, LMOGA Offshore Committee Director for BIC Magazine
Thousands of men and women from across Louisiana’s energy coast gathered at Lafayette’s Cajundome July 21, 2010, to rally for their community’s economic survival. Emotions were running as high as the sweltering summer temperatures outside when native son and interim Louisiana Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle took the stage to greet the crowd.
Angelle’s seven-minute speech quickly got the hometown crowd on its feet and signaled to the rest of the nation that the working men and women of the offshore energy industry in Louisiana were not going to let President Obama’s sixth-month moratorium on offshore drilling continue without a fight.
“Louisiana has a long and strong history of fueling America, and we proudly do a job that few other states are willing to do,” Angelle enthusiastically declared amid rousing applause.
Seven years ago, Angelle was the vocal, passionate champion of Louisiana’s efforts to end the offshore drilling moratorium and get our people back to work in the Gulf, and his efforts were hugely successful. Working hand-in-hand with a grassroots advocacy group, Gulf Economic Survival Team, and with the support of industry organizations like LMOGA, Angelle met numerous times with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other key federal leaders to press for a speedy resumption to Gulf drilling. In October 2010, the moratorium was lifted, a month earlier than the president had originally intended.
Part of Angelle’s success in this effort was his belief that, as a state and a nation, we can have it all: energy production, safety and environmental sustainability. Today, he takes that commitment with him in his new job as director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) in Washington, a post that is very important to the future of the Gulf as an energy resource and as an economic engine for our entire country.
Under Angelle’s leadership, the regulatory agency will no longer be an “either/or” agency, but will be the “and” agency. As the new BSEE director says, in the responsible development of America’s natural resources, we can produce energy to fuel America and revenues to fuel our federal and local governments, while at the same time enjoying some of the best hunting, fishing and camping in the world. Louisiana has proven that this can be done, and Angelle intends to make this a reality in the regulatory world of BSEE as well.
“I look forward to leading our efforts to empower the offshore oil and gas industry while ensuring safe and environmentally responsible operations,” he said on his BSEE appointment. The timing could not be any better.
While the offshore oil and gas industry and the workers and communities that support our energy industry continue to struggle with low global oil prices, operators are also wrangling with questionable regulations issued by the Obama administration in its waning days that actually may put safety and environmental protection at greater risk and threaten economic recovery.
In April, President Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of all areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration and certain regulations governing the industry. This creates a golden opportunity for our new BSEE director to put his “we can have it all” perspective into action. We are confident that Director Angelle will take this review very seriously, and the result will be sensible regulations that promote safety and environmental protection while supporting a strong American energy plan to restore our nation’s economic future with domestic oil and gas produced in the Gulf.
Angelle believes that Washington needs more America, and not the other way around. With him at the helm, BSEE not only gains some perspective from America’s heartland but also unique enthusiasm from a hardworking south Louisiana Cajun who knows that we can have it all and is committed to making it all happen.