Lawmakers hoping to seize opportunity in Gulf

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Louisiana lawmakers are animated following the federal government's plan to sell more land in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration. The Trump administration recently announced it will auction off 73 million acres of land in the Gulf. This is part of President Trump's pursuit to make the U.S. energy independent. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) says the move could be a blessing for Louisiana jobs.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) says energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico will bring a huge boost to Louisiana jobs.

"It's nice to have a president who finally understands the importance of oil and gas," said Kennedy.

Kennedy is energized, much like lawmakers in other Gulf states.

"What we need in Louisiana is jobs, and oil and gas can help us provide those," said Kennedy.

The auction is part of a multi-year program that will hold two auctions a year for the next five years. Kennedy expects big names in the energy industry to bid on the land. He says though drilling will ramp up, he's not concerned about another potential disaster.

"There is no way that we can guarantee that there won't be another catastrophe in the Gulf," said Kennedy. "That's called life. Life is uncertain. Those things happen."

That sort of thinking isn't flying with the clean energy sector. Opponents of this land auction say the Trump administration is taking American energy backward, and only listening to special interests.

"It sends a strong signal that they're listening very closely to what industry is saying but not necessarily what voters are saying," said Brian La Shier, policy associate at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.

In a recent Gallup Poll, 71 percent of Americans said the government should develop alternative energy rather than produce more oil, coal and gas. La Shier says the administration has to start working in tune with the people.

"The U.S. needs to do its best to remain competitive through investing in these types of emerging technologies, improving the ones we have, and just continuing to deploy wind, solar, geothermal," said La Shier.

The first auction will take place this August in New Orleans.