- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jan. 4

The American Press of Lake Charles on whether a pipeline protest could occur in Louisiana:

“Patience among law enforcement personnel and the people of North Dakota is running thin over the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s pipeline protest in Morton County,” reads an editorial by Inform Communications. “The rule of law has been trampled by the protesters and their illegal encampments on federal and private lands near the Dakota Access Pipeline corridor.”

Could Louisiana face the same situation?

We’ll see.

A newly formed environmental activist group out of Shreveport has made plans to travel to Baton Rouge to protest an incoming pipeline that they say could hurt the environment.

The dozens of members who make up the just recently created North Louisiana for Climate Justice said their first mission is to tackle the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline project at a public hearing set for Jan. 12.

The $670 million pipeline project would carry an estimated 280,000 barrels of oil through 11 southern parishes, starting in Lake Charles.

It’s backed by Energy Transfer Partners, the same company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

The proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline is a 162-mile pipeline that would transport 280,000 barrels of crude oil over 162 streams and eight watersheds, according to the company’s permit application.

The pipeline will run through the habitats of at least 21 federally and state-listed threatened or endangered species - including the bald eagle, pallid sturgeon and Louisiana black bear. The company says the construction will have “no effect” or is “not likely to adversely affect” any of those species.

Construction of the pipeline also will result in the permanent loss of 159 acres of wetlands, with an additional 454 acres of wetlands temporarily impacted, according to a report by Perennial Environmental Services.

But the protesters aren’t convinced. “We’re individuals trying to fight against a system that’s increasingly moving away from the people,” Shreveport resident Ron Hagar said. “That’s what we’re up against.”

Online: https://www.americanpress.com/


Jan. 6

The Advertiser of Lafayette on what’s next for oil producers:

A year back, we lamented in these pages that Saudi Arabia and the OPEC nations had U.S. oil over a barrel. Oh, what a difference a year makes.

Oil prices were plunging then to an eventual bottom of $26 a barrel in February. The Saudis were pumping unabated, hell-bent on flooding the global market with oil and driving U.S. oil producers - shale operators, in particular - to their knees.

Over the past year, oil prices made a slow ascent to more than $50 a barrel, not enough for many U.S. producers to make money but enough to cause some stir. For Louisiana, the nation’s No. 2 oil and No. 2 natural gas producer, there is new, guarded optimism.

In fact, the U.S. industry may have proven more resilient than the Saudis imagined; the Saudis, in turn, may have exposed some holes in their own energy plans. The Saudi economy demands more profits than have been realized there since November 2014, when they outlined their plan to gain global market share. The Saudi people are grumbling now; Saudi social programs have been reduced; some Saudis, supported enormous oil profits in their country, may have to seek jobs.

Conversely, the glut in U.S. oil supplies may be relaxing, pump prices for gasoline are rising. Rig counts are rising, at least in west Texas. Where is it all going?

The hope here is that U.S. shale operators have adjusted and have or may emerge from this lingering downturn leaner and more efficient. That doesn’t promise the return of as many jobs as were lost, but it may make for a stronger U.S. energy industry. That’s important to the nation’s economy, its defense and U.S. world position.

Experts say that won’t necessarily benefit Louisiana’s offshore operations, but it might help Louisiana companies that operate out of state. Any good news is welcome.

David Dismukes, director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies, said some aspects of the Saudi gambit worked, some didn’t. U.S. producers felt the pain, but so did all of Louisiana. Start with those Louisianians who lost jobs, but add, too, the housing and retail sectors, which have suffered during the downturn. Louisiana in general, Acadiana specifically, is wholly in the oil business, no matter where you work or live.

Consumers have benefited, saving $50 to $150 a month at the gasoline pumps. But in Louisiana, low gas prices are not universally celebrated. This area sees robust pricing as part of wider economic health.

There are signals things may improve in the Oil Patch, but nothing improves without better prices, which spark investment and hiring. Oil may never see $100 a barrel again, but we’d be encouraged by $60 in 2017. Then $61. Then …

Online: https://www.theadvertiser.com/


Jan. 8

The Advocate of New Orleans on why there should be unity among Louisianans:

Although most members of Louisiana’s newly constituted congressional delegation campaigned against big government when running for office, there’s at least one crisis facing the state that’s going to need massive help from Washington, D.C. to resolve.

Louisiana’s coastline is slipping away, and the price tag for addressing the problem now stands at $90 billion - an expense so large that without lots of federal support, the state will, quite literally, be sunk.

That daunting math was underscored by this month’s release of the state’s master plan for coastal restoration, which has just been revised for the coming decade. Louisiana will get about $500 million for the next 15 years from various legal settlements, and a portion of offshore mineral royalties could bring inasmuch as $175 million a year for the next few decades. Those funds can be used for coastal projects, but the state is still far short of what’s needed to restore the coast and prevent further damage.

Louisiana needs a strong partnership with the federal government to answer the challenge, and the state’s congressmen and senators need to make that case on Capitol Hill - and at the White House, with the soon-to-be President Donald Trump.

What we’re seeking isn’t a handout, but an investment in sustaining a part of the United States that’s critical to the national interest. Anything that threatens Louisiana’s fisheries, oil and gas pipelines, and major cities is a threat to national security. Thanks to Louisiana’s resources, America has prospered. That is why the country our state and its people have served now has a moral obligation to partner with us in preserving Louisiana for future generations.

Federal taxpayers, in turn, have a right to know that money spent to fix Louisiana’s coast will be effective. They should know - and Louisiana residents should remember - that restoring the coast isn’t a lost cause. More than 50 miles of shoreline on barrier islands have been rebuilt so far, along with several hundred acres of marshes. But much work remains to be done, and the damage is great. Levees along the Mississippi River prevented sediment from replenishing coastal land, and oil and gas exploration damaged the coast, too. Meanwhile, climate change is raising sea levels, complicating the already huge task of keeping the bottom of Louisiana from slipping underwater. Without action, thousands of homes and businesses could be at risk of oblivion.

We call upon Louisiana’s congressional delegation to speak with one voice in arguing for coastal restoration as a federal priority.

At a time of great political discord, this issue demands unity and resolve, not retreat.

Online: https://www.theadvocate.com/

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