The Fuse

Energy Policy 2016: Spotlight on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

by R. Kress | August 07, 2015

Status: Declared candidacy on June 24, 2015

Party: Republican

Career Overview: Bobby Jindal has been Governor of Louisiana since 2008—and stepped into the national spotlight in 2010 when managing the state’s response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout. Prior to becoming governor, he served in the U.S House of Representatives on behalf of Louisiana’s 1st district. Before launching his political career, Jindal was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and later worked for global consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Energy policy: Jindal has been a longtime critic of the Obama administration’s energy policy. In 2012, he penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal taking the President to task and labeling the administration’s energy policy as “radical.” The article gives several clear hints as to what a Jindal administration’s energy policy would look like:

Fracking: In his op-ed, Jindal expresses unequivocal support for fracking as it is “making our nation the world leader in natural gas.” He calls for the President to make it clear that he will not impede the growth of the industry or shut it down.

In December of 2013, about a year after the WSJ op-ed, Jindal’s support of fracking became a hot topic when he managed to link the sometimes controversial oil and natural gas extraction technique to some very unlikely pop culture icons: “Liberal groups like Artists Against Fracking, founded by Yoko Ono and including celebrities from Richard Gere to Lady Gaga, are touting fact-free Hollywood celebrity-driven campaigns against a technology that has given us energy security and clean-burning energy while lowering emissions of all types…if the Democrats think that Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga should be setting American energy policy, I am happy to go on record denying that it’s a good idea.”

Drilling: Jindal’s op-ed calls for the president to open new oil fields in areas from Alaska’s ANWR to the Eastern Gulf. He also pushes for the federal government to ease the oil drilling permitting process: “Because energy prices are driven by a sense of future risk, the president should create a more predictable environment for exploration and production…The reality is that the Obama administration slowed the permitting process long before the [2010 Deepwater Horizon oil] spill happened. Rather than playing catch up, we’re falling further behind. The American people and the oil and gas industry need certainty that energy independence, not politics, will drive our nation’s security.”

Keystone XL: Jindal’s op-ed reiterates his stance as a vocal supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline project. “This pipeline would…provided a much-needed transportation line between oil refineries along our Gulf Coast and production facilities in Canada…Our friends to the north have been reliable and steadfast trading partners and the president should be making this pipeline decision on policy grounds instead of cheap political appeals to his liberal base.”

About a year later in 2013, he doubled-down on his position, indicating that by not building the pipeline, greenhouse gas emissions would worsen: “If the pipeline is not constructed, Venezuela heavy crude would fill the void in US markets and have a far worse carbon footprint. So this argument about increased greenhouse gas is interesting, but completely false.” He also cited the Keystone XL Pipeline as a means to domestic energy security: “The Keystone XL pipeline would give America a real chance to become much more energy secure and less reliant on OPEC without harming the environment.”

Oil spill aftermath: In 2014, Jindal signed SB 469—a move that may ultimately complicate or outright scuttle both state and local claims against BP for damages stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that ravaged the Louisiana coastline. The bill also blocked a New Orleans-area levee district from suing the oil and gas industry for the damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The district claimed that barrier islands and other naturally occurring features would have protected their shores from the storms if not for oil companies installing pipes and canals through them. The head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association hailed Jindal’s signing of SB 469 as a “huge victory” for the industry. Jindal released a statement, upholding his decision to sign SB 469 saying that “this bill will help stop frivolous lawsuits and create a more fair and predictable legal environment, and I am proud to sign it into law.”

Electric Vehicles: In 2009, Jindal welcomed the San Diego start-up V-Vehicle Co. to build a plant for its alternative fuel vehicles in Louisiana on the site of an old GM factory. The plant was set to create 1,400 jobs in northeastern Louisiana—and the state was ready to approve some $79 million for the project and associated training. Ultimately, the project had to be scrapped after the U.S. Department of Energy failed to approve federal loans that it could not proceed without.

Climate Change: Jindal has said that he believes “human activity is having an impact on the climate” but, on the other hand, has called global warming a “Trojan horse” to allow steeper restrictions from the government. In 2014, he told conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation that the Obama administration is using emissions regulations and environmental rulings to hold “our economy hostage to their radical ideas…For some of the Left, it’s a way for them to come in and make changes to our economy that they would otherwise want to make.”

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