By Greg Upton, Guest Columnist, The Advertiser, February 16, 2017
Louisiana is a beautiful place to live. Our Atchafalaya basin is an incredibly unique ecosystem and also is crucially important to the future of our state and culture. We'd be shortsighted and naive to wreck our environment for short-term economic gains. But on the other hand, everything we do and everything we consume impacts the environment in one way or another. So how do we strike this balance? Should we be opposed to all economic development with any risk to our ecosystem?
Controversy over pipeline construction has garnered national attention this past year. But the potentially emotional response to this issue does not preclude us from understanding the facts surrounding development. Recently, hundreds of protestors from around the country have come to our state to oppose the construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline that will stretch from Lake Charles to St. James Parish, supplying crude oil to our Louisiana refineries.
While short-term economic gains from this construction are notable, more important is the contribution of the refining and petrochemicals industry to our state's economy. The construction phase of Bayou Bridge is estimated to lead to $830 million in economic activity, over 4,000 jobs, more than $420 million dollars into the pockets of Louisiana workers, and over $55 million in state and local tax revenues. But these numbers do not include broader effects of diversifying the crude oil supply needed to run our Louisiana refineries.
Until recently the U.S. has been experiencing consistent decreases in crude oil production for decades. Despite this decrease, the refining and petrochemical industries along the Gulf Coast have remained vibrant; today these and related industries in total employ more than 40,000 Louisiana workers.
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