Don Briggs Feb. 12, 2014, 6:46pm

The oil and gas industry of Louisiana is the largest employer in the state. Over 30% of our nation’s natural resources flow from or through Louisiana. Whether from the Haynesville Shale in Northwest Louisiana or in the shallow waters of our coast, or moving through our vast pipeline infrastructure, Louisiana is called THE oil and gas state for a reason.

For over a century, the oil and gas industry has employed fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, friends and neighbors. The oil and gas industry is the backbone of our working class. In 1901, when Scott Heywood drilled the first oil well near Jennings, Louisiana on the Clement property, Louisiana would see an industry rise from humble beginnings to an international contributor of natural resources.

The founding fathers of Louisiana’s oil and gas industry had the foresight to look ahead and see an industry that could survive highs and lows, depressions and recessions and still remain a staple in the community.

Even though the green environmental groups coupled with a small group of trial lawyers have now filed over 400 suits against the hard working men and women of the Louisiana oil and gas industry, the industry’s mission is the same. Work hard, provide thousands of jobs, boost the economy, and invest in the community to which the oil and gas companies call home.

While the opposition groups are blaming coastal erosion, flooding and contamination on the oil and gas industry, they fail to provide accurate data with their accusations. When questioned, they merely shout louder as if that adds validity to their asinine claims.

The story that fails to get told are the accounts of the companies who sponsor little league teams, provide aid during natural disasters, and most importantly, by operating as a responsible business in the community, pay their taxes.

What happens when an industry as large as the oil and gas industry contributes billions of dollars to a state economy? Millions of dollars in taxes are paid each year resulting in new hospitals, schools, roads, and bridges.

The idea that the oil and gas industry is irresponsible is just that. An idea that is irresponsible. The notion that the industry contaminates property and drinking water is just that, a notion. This is our backyard, our community, our drinking water and our canals, lakes and rivers that we fish in too.

It is too easy to read one press story by an extreme environmental group, and believe that the content is true. But what is even easier is to step outside and see the sports complexes, visit your children’s new educational facility, or take a trip to your newly renovated hospital. The ripple effect of a responsible oil and gas industry can be felt many miles away from the drilling rig. Ask for a show of hands next time you are in a crowded room and see for yourself how many persons are directly employed by the oil and gas industry. It will make you think twice about the accusation that your dad or uncle is purposely harming this great state of Louisiana that we all call home.

D0n Briggs is President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Industry.

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