For nearly a decade, Louisiana’s oil and gas industry has been targeted by ideologically-charged efforts to suppress fossil fuel energy production. The energy and fuel refining industries have long been the lifeblood of our state’s economy, but a sluggish market and burdensome regulations have suppressed domestic energy producers and cost thousands of local jobs.

For those of you reading this, rest assured – the tide is turning in Washington.

There is a renewed focus on energy independence, and we are now presented with a great opportunity to unleash the full potential of American energy and restore jobs and much-needed revenue to our communities. For the first time in history, the United States is on the verge of becoming a net energy exporter, and South Louisiana stands to lead the way.

The “America First” climate in Washington is inspiring new growth and private investment across the nation, including right here in Southwest Louisiana. Our region is home to the first large-scale LNG export terminal in the lower 48 states, and similar projects are in the works. The Lake Charles area is home to more than $120 billion worth of private investment projects that serve as a direct catalyst for economic growth, driving the region’s employment success and status as the top small market in the South.

Right now, Louisiana is a top 10 energy producer with roughly 20 percent of all refining capacity in the United States. The projects here in Southwest Louisiana represent a monumental opportunity for our state to serve as the epicenter of America’s energy revolution.

It’s time to seize that opportunity and get the federal government out of the way of private industry.

To get these projects to completion, the federal government must become a partner – not a predator – of the oil and gas industry. We need to break ground on pending pipeline infrastructure, invest in innovative technology and refining techniques, and expedite export permits that will open new markets for U.S. energy producers. Federal and State governments must also work together to prioritize the modernization of our aging system of highways and waterways that the industry relies upon for their day-to-day operations.

My office is working hard to ensure that Louisiana’s energy producers are at the forefront of this new American energy revolution. We’ve introduced legislation to roll back outdated regulations, expedite permit approvals, and incentivize new energy technologies. And we’re not stopping.

I can relay to you with full confidence that we are making great strides in Washington to advance this mission and place American energy first. In the first half of 2017, we’ve rolled back 16 regulations for every new one enacted, we’ve repealed President Obama’s injurious Waters of the U.S. rule, we’ve passed legislation promoting an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and we’ve worked to expand offshore drilling.

We’re getting it done for Southwest Louisiana and the entire nation. These changes are bringing growth nationwide, meaning more jobs, more revenue, higher wages, and lower consumer costs. Our region is uniquely poised to capitalize on the America first energy policies coming from the Trump Administration and this Congress. Much of the nation’s energy exports are funneled through South Louisiana’s ports, waterways, and pipeline infrastructure. With an estimated $1.6 trillion in trade value by 2040 for natural gas alone, our region stands to make huge gains.

I will continue to serve as a loud voice for the interests of the hard-working American patriots who power these industries. Rolling back federal overreach and welcoming private investment to our region will ensure that Louisiana is leading the way as we restore America’s energy economy.

Rep. Clay Higgins represents Louisiana’s 3rd District in the United States House of Representatives.

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