Transition from oil and gas industry would potentially cripple Louisiana’s economy, leaving tens of thousands out of work

Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:00 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Former Vice-President Biden made it clear during Thursday (Oct. 22) night’s presidential debate he would “transition” away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy if he is elected.

Those comments left many in oil and gas producing states like Louisiana concerned about the future of Louisiana’s economy. The oil and gas producing industry represents $73 billion in the state’s GDP and provides 249,000 jobs according to the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

“These types of jobs bring three different types of jobs,” said Tyler Gray, President of LMOGA. “They bring indirect jobs that come directly from the oil and natural gas industry, you have indirect jobs which is any sort of work that comes on-site whether it’s pipefitters, contractors that are working there, and then you have induced jobs. That’s where people have disposable income from working in these facilities and it ends up spent at restaurants, grocery stores, and things like that.”

At the tip of the iceberg, the people who work in those direct jobs. A transition away from fossil fuels, Gray said, would immediately impact them. Those are people like Betty Lynn Mobley.

Mobley relies on her work in the oil fields to support her three children and to pay the bills.

“I’ve mainly worked in the directional side, which is where we go out to the lease, set up, drill, which means we work directly with the oil companies,” she said.

She fears she would be on the chopping block if any move is forced on the industry.

“It’s not even about Trump and Biden for me,” Mobley said. “It’s about families needing to pay their bills. Everyone thinks this is a political pawn game and it’s not. These are people’s lives.”

At 40-years-old and college-educated, she feels she could transition into a new career, but others would not be as lucky.

“The people that are out there every day are under-educated and I think it would be a struggle,” she said.

Biden was unclear about his plans and did not provide a timeline on when any transition could take place.

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