America’s energy security is currently being threatened by geopolitical turmoil that is challenging our oil and gas industry. Now more than ever, it is crucial we protect our nation’s energy security by ensuring that oil and gas exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico can continue unabated in a growth environment.
In 2018, the Gulf of Mexico produced 16% of our nation’s total crude oil and 3% of our natural gas, both of which fuel the homes, businesses, and lives of Americans. Besides those crucial functions, Gulf-produced energy provides well-paying jobs for thousands of Mississippians.
As America faces geopolitical and economic uncertainty, the COVID-19 crisis simultaneously is threatening lives and further harm to our economy. At the beginning of April, a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment in one week. When we are able to recover from this crisis, many will be looking for jobs and struggling to keep food on their tables.
However, Gulf exploration and production can create jobs and mitigate the economic damage in several important ways.
One study found that expanding access in the Gulf of Mexico could help provide Mississippi with more than 8,400 jobs and an additional $700 million in Gross Domestic Product. It could also add an additional $1 billion in funding for coastal projects. These new jobs and resources could become critical to Mississippi as we look toward building a path to recovery to lift us out of the twin crises of COVID-19 and the oil price war.
In a recent poll, 73% of Mississippians supported expanded oil and gas exploration and production, while 53% would oppose efforts to limit it.
Revenue sharing under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act also brings in additional funding to Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, however these funds are capped at $375 million for the four participating states to share. Removing the cap would help Mississippi receive more money for coastal projects.
The Department of the Interior recently announced that Mississippi would receive almost $52 million to be spent on coastal projects, including hurricane protection. The jobs that are created with that additional funding will put Mississippians to work.
It is critically important to keep Mississippi and America’s economy moving forward by leaving every energy option on the table.