Southwest Louisiana Economic Outlook

admin Thursday, April 11, 2024 Comments Off on Southwest Louisiana Economic Outlook
Southwest Louisiana Economic Outlook

AGreek philosopher once said that the only constant in life is change. 

When we began this year, we projected that one or two LNG facilities would be making final investment decisions (FID).

When President Biden’s administration announced a policy change regarding American based liquefied natural gas export facilities last month, Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas became the focal point of a national debate with international implications.

Eric Cormier, Sr. vice president at The Alliance, went to Washington, D.C., Feb. 6 to testify before a U.S. House of Representatives Energy Committee. Eric told of the negative impact of this pause on our area and businesses.   

 Projects impacted in our region are:

Magnolia LNG (approved by FERC – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — and waiting for DOE, Department of Energy, license)

Commonwealth LNG (approved by FERC and waiting for DOE license)

Venture Global CP TWO (awaiting FERC approval and DOE license)

Lake Charles LNG (reapplying for DOE license)

Sempra Infrastructure – Port Arthur, Texas LNG Phase TWO (FERC approved and waiting for DOE license)

The Biden administration wants to revisit DOE policies that “are roughly five years old and they say no longer adequately account for considerations like potential energy cost increases for American consumers and manufacturers beyond current authorizations or the latest assessment of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Why is this happening now?

Time magazine wrote in January: “The decision by President Biden, announced as the 2024 presidential election year kicks off, aligns the Democratic president with environmentalists, who fear the huge increase in exports of LNG is locking in potentially catastrophic planet-warming emissions when Biden has pledged to cut climate pollution in half by 2030.”

The Center for Strategic and International Studies also wrote in January that “Environmental campaigners have focused on this issue for months, arguing that the U.S. LNG export boom is incompatible with U.S. climate commitments. They also allege — citing questionable analysis — that lifecycle emissions of the U.S. natural gas exports are worse than coal.”

FERC specifically focuses on environmental impacts. The application and review process takes an extended amount of time and includes public input. President Biden allowed the interests of envi

ronmentalists to override FERC’s intense process. Meanwhile, our region’s Main Street, which benefits from growing industry, is in flux.

The Chamber SWLA team (with all our partners) and Cameron Parish officials, along with our friends in Jefferson County, Texas, will work to tell our story and how businesses are being adversely affected by the Biden pause.  

The Chamber SWLA and Alliance care about the environment because our community members fish, hike, hunt, shrimp, camp, bike ride and generally live outdoors. In SWLA, we live, work, play, and are concerned about future generations.  

It’s time to push the PLAY button, not the PAUSE button, on the region’s clean energy LNG industry. Our families’ lives and future prosperity are at stake.

Make no mistake — our region and our industry are under attack by national so-called environmentalists. One of them, professor Bill McKibben,  says his goal is to stop every new LNG plant along the Gulf Coast. This is totally irresponsible, and I bet they like electricity in Vermont where he lives. If there has ever been time to work together and stick together as a region, the time is now. 

The success of LNG helps everyone in our five parishes. 

Our region has been through major weather impacts and continues to rebuild. We need every elected official and every business to stand with us at the Alliance and realize that our relatively small region of about 300,000 will sink or swim based on our unity.  All is not doom.  Some LNG projects are permitted and will continue.

One of those is Tellurian’s Driftwood LNG.  With new leadership, Tellurian has announced that they expect to take FID on two Driftwood LNG plants this year. Two Tellurian plants are expected to FID this year, and a third is expected to do so six to nine months thereafter, the company said in a new presentation posted on its website. 


The $224 million Sulphur Solar Farm is expected to begin late this year. Boise Cascade announced a $75 million expansion and modernization of the Oakdale wood products facility. Lake Charles Methanol announced a new $3.2 billion manufacturing plant on Port of Lake Charles Property.

A recent report found that nearly 40,000 new jobs were created last year across Louisiana. If that sounds like a lot in a single year, it is, according to University of Louisiana at Lafayette economist Gary Wagner, who says the increase is the largest the state has seen since 1997. 

Our unemployment rate is 3.5 percent. There are 1.5 jobs available for every person seeking a job. So, our outlook remains bright. 

Many folks seem to take our economic base for granted, but when you survey our area, we are diversified and consistently strong in our regional economy. That’s something to be thankful for. 

By George Swift
President/CEO SWLA Economic Development Alliance

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