An aerial view of Louisiana coastline | climiateliabilitynews.org
A Baton Rouge think tank calls Louisiana’s recent spate of parish lawsuits against oil companies a drain that is affecting the state’s entire economy.
”The government is stepping in and suing – on behalf of the government – all these major companies that over the years have drilled along the coast – with permits, I might add – and so absolutely it’s beyond a chilling effect on what it’s done as far as the economy is concerned,” Renee Amar, vice president for government affairs at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, said. “We have lost all those jobs and all the opportunity that goes with it.”
That position echoes what gubernatorial challengers Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone have said of Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has supported parishes suing oil companies over alleged coastal erosion. Amar says the ripple effect of that litigation is companies packing up and moving operations to Texas.
“Based on the amount of out-migration that we continually have, and the fact that Texas is literally like a world economy in itself – you can’t slow it down, that’s where all my friends’ kids are going, where she’s a teacher and he’s a chemical engineer – and they are having more and more in-migration, where ours is out-migration,” Amar said, adding, “and a lot of that is they have a much better legal climate than what we do.”
Amar pointed to the number of local businesses that profit when a company like Shell is exploring, drilling or dredging. Those include companies in the transportation, food, housing and even uniform companies.
“A lot of that has come to a screeching halt. If you drive down some of those highways along the coast … Houma, Thibodaux, for example, some of those areas … industrial oil and gas communities, you can see the small businesses that have been shuttered because of it,” Amar said. “So, it definitely has a ripple effect.”