Our guest is Scott Angelle, who discusses balancing Louisiana’s “3 E’s” – Environment, Energy, and Economy.
Angelle was the longest-serving Director of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), from 2017 through 2020. He also served as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, from 2004 to 2012, and as Lieutenant Governor in 2010.
Angelle served as an elected member from District 2 of the Public Service Commission, as a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, and chaired Louisiana’s Water Resources Commission. He also served 16 years as a police jury member in St. Martin Parish and as their first Parish President.
Growing up in St. Martin Parish in a large family, Angelle was one of nine children who were raised to respect others. “Family is everything. We were blessed to have two wonderful parents. To those who have been given a great opportunity comes a great responsibility to improve the world. We were always taught that our community is a reflection of our individual efforts.” Angelle’s parents owned the local Ford dealership and he recalled how values of inclusion and kindness to all were instilled in him at a young age.
Angelle’s career experiences have afforded him a deep understanding of the need to protect the environment while the drilling for fossil fuels continues. His most recent experience as Director of BSEE involved promoting safety, protecting the environment, and conserving resources through the regulatory oversight and enforcement of energy industry operations on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. During his first days in office at BSEE in 2017, the General Accountability Office placed offshore oil and gas drilling on its list of unsafe and dangerous high-risk programs, not a list anyone wants to be on; over the next few years, Angelle successfully focused efforts to improve safety and on getting the industry off this list. Today, the offshore oil and gas industry is ranked as the second safest high-hazard industry in America.
Angelle stresses that the U. S. is not well-served by being reliant on foreign energy sources. He’s become a student of history and shared trends that can’t be ignored: from 1973 to 2019, there were six U. S. recessions that were each preceded by a spike in energy prices. His conclusion: It is in our nation’s best interest to keep energy prices flat in order to keep the economy on an even keel, maintain our national security, and protect the quality of life for our citizens. “History tells us that if we lose energy independence and prices rise, we will go into a recession. People will be laid off and cars will sit on the lots. It’s called ‘demand destruction.'”
But not all barrels of oil are created equally. “We can be big, big winners in the Gulf of Mexico.” Angelle wants people to understand the science of drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and the desirability of pursuing this ecologically friendly option. The carbon intensity of oil that is extracted from the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the Central Gulf, which is loaded with hydrocarbons (offshore of Louisiana,) is very low, in fact, its low-intensity rating is only exceeded by Saudi Arabian oil. The importance of this? The higher the carbon intensity, the more likely burning of the fuel will cause an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which will trap heat, leading to climate change. According to Angelle, “Gulf of Mexico oil is good for our economy and the environment. We can improve our environment by replacing foreign oil with Gulf oil and create jobs locally.”
A big issue in America is how we are responding to climate change challenges. Angelle cited a 2016 Obama/Biden report that concluded “if we don’t have regularly schedule resale of leases in the Gulf of Mexico, it will force greenhouse gas emissions to go up in America because we will have to procure our oil from higher carbon intensity provinces.”
“A strong domestic energy policy is good for national and economic security. We’ll never have the cheapest labor in America, but one thing we can do is have incredibly competitive energy prices that help overcome things such as our high standard of living. After the OPEC oil embargo in 1973 that crippled the U. S. and other nations with the ensuing shortage of oil and gas, the U. S. responded by conserving energy by lowering speed limits, limited oil importation, and encouraged American entrepreneurship. Boudreaux, Thibodeaux, Cheramie and Callais all went to work! Today, one of every six barrels of oil produced in the U. S. comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Royalties that come from the leasing of federal lands offshore are the second-largest source of revenue to the Treasury only behind income taxes. Most of these monies are set aside to provide revenue to parks and other greenspaces across the U. S.”
Every generation has its own challenges to face, and this generation’s challenge is how to manage the effects of climate change. Angelle knows that young conservatives are extremely concerned about the health of our planet and they will soon be in a position to shape public policy. Angelle believes that now, a decade after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Louisiana can be a winner in oil extraction in the Gulf because the low carbon intensity of Gulf oil is far superior to other alternatives. He also noted that when extracting oil from the Central province of the Gulf of Mexico, only 1.25% of methane is flared or vented into the atmosphere, the best (safety) numbers in the U. S. While every industry has its bad days and we must remain cognizant of the tragedy of past accidents, the offshore oil and gas industry has consistently shown a commitment to safety with the record to prove it.
“Electric cars represent a balance of the 3 E’s….while recognizing that oil and gas energy is also important. I believe that our children will have energy from a variety of sources that we didn’t have. That’s why I’ve introduced this new umbrella message: we must balance the 3 E’s. ‘Balance’ is one of the positive words that we can all aspire to. The facts say the Gulf of Mexico is an incredible province for this country. We need more Gulf of Mexico oil, not less, while we are looking for renewables and alternatives to be a bigger part of the energy portfolio. It’s a great opportunity.”
Angelle is also passionate about our people and how we celebrate all of the abundance of Louisiana’s natural resources. We taped on June 18, 2021, “National Fishing Day. He believes that most states are “either/or,” as in they either have environmental, energy, or economic issues to celebrate. Not us. “We have an abundance endowed upon us by our Creator to enjoy, all at the same time. The Gulf of Mexico is not only a producer of energy but also an abundance of fishing opportunities. You can do it all in Louisiana, while boosting our economy. Our “Rigs to Reef Program” has been good for fishermen as we have also created the ‘honey hole of fishing’ in the Gulf of Mexico. We are not an “either/or state.” We can produce one out of six barrels of oil for the country, we can also provide one of the most amazing fishing hatcheries in the country. This is nowhere clearer than in Morgan City where they have the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival….celebrating fuel and seafood, all coming from the same place!”
In closing, we spoke of opportunities for Acadiana as we move forward with the exploration for oil and gas as the popular demand for energy shifts toward renewable energy sources. Angelle has more hope for offshore opportunities for Acadiana people than onshore exploration. Acadiana does not have a strong shale play, but we do have a ready contingent of folks here in Lafayette, New Iberia, Morgan City, etc. who are teeming with talent, experienced in meeting production demands, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. This also goes for the burgeoning market for renewable energy resources such as wind. “Our industry folds can step up and meet the demands for labor and manufacturing needs…..we can add value. We are smart people who know how to bring solutions.”
Of course, this interview is best heard by listening to Scott and not just perused by reading these show notes! For more information, please contact Scott Angelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.