But for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of workers in the Louisiana energy sector, President Trump should take forceful action to spark growth in the Gulf of Mexico, said South Central Industrial Association (SCIA) director Jane Arnette in a letter to Baton Rouge’s Advocate newspaper.

“The bayou area is hurting. We have the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. And new hiring is trailing other states, even as a $20 billion ExxonMobil investment promises tens of thousands of jobs,” she wrote. “ … we now need concrete changes that will loosen government reins on energy and unleash industry to expand.

“A great place to start is overturning a last-minute Obama-era assault by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. In late 2016, a crafty ‘Notice to Lessees’ increased financial assurance requirements on Gulf operators in a manner perfectly designed to sabotage their growth.”

It was an abuse of what had for decades been a common sense policy, said Arnette, adding the rule was highly effective in protecting taxpayer dollars in the case of energy company bankruptcy.

But rather than modernize the requirements to suit the 21st century, the Obama administration chose to simply raise them to untenable levels, according to Arnette. “The change has essentially sidelined independent energy companies, she claimed. “Even for multinationals, the capital requirements are taking funds that could otherwise be spent on exploration, hiring, and even well safety and plugging measures.

“The total cost of this measure is estimated to be 87,000 jobs and a $10 billion hit to US GDP,” Arnette said. “Most pressing for our region, the ripple effect is hampering Louisiana’s ability to enjoy the economic rebound many neighboring states are experiencing.”