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All well that ends well for LA, Angelle

Continually rejected by Louisiana voters, it seems Scott Angelle has hit his stride to aid the state in his post at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Tapped to lead the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the Republican has become a point person in GOP Pres. Donald Trump’s drive to disband overregulation and curb politicization of science that marked policies of the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama. Through a combination of specific strictures aimed at the energy industry and more generally draconian standards imposed in the area of the environment, perhaps no activity bore the heaviest burden from Obama’s heavy hand than energy.

Refreshingly, now that has changed. In Angelle’s bailiwick, he will monitor vastly opened acreage of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and newly available land and seabed in the Arctic Ocean. He also will guide policy on extraction on federal lands and in implementing safety regulations.

Most recently, he halted a study on offshore oil inspections for three months, citing pending revisions on procedures within the agency that could prove duplicate. The other study falls under the auspices of the National Academies of the Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, another government agency that receives funding through government and foundation grants and donations. It selects its own members but its leader, currently Marica McNutt who served in the Obama Administration and is an oceanographer by trade, is chosen by the president for a fixed term.

The study’s caesura thus hit a bit of a sore spot, and actually marks the second time this year the NASEM has had an effort called off by a sponsoring agency. In August, Interior said it no longer intended to use a study on mountaintop coal mining, meaning it would not fund the burgeoning effort. Private funding may fill the gap, presenting a solution to those wedded to the inspection study if Interior formally declines using it.

Oil extraction plays a huge role in Louisiana’s economy, with 17 percent of all U.S. production occurring offshore and much of that near the state, as well as being the ninth largest producing state. It’s also the fourth largest natural gas producer, and the Gulf provides about 4 percent of gas. Refining a fifth of all the nation’s crude oil, only Texas outranks Louisiana.

Even as world economic trends continue to buffet Louisiana’s economy heavily based on energy, the real threat on the horizon comes from Obama policies that will take time to undo and/or to impose their full impact. Diligent work from Angelle can mitigate or reverse the deleterious impact of these, disproportionately helping his home state.

No doubt Angelle would have made his mark as governor, failing to advance to a runoff for that office in 2015 – and controversially, by helping to bash frontrunner Republican former Sen. David Vitter to the point it allowed Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to win. He also would have contributed to the state through serving in Congress, but in 2016 lost the runoff for a seat to GOP Rep. Clay Higgins, in part caused by conservative anger in facilitating a liberal to win the governorship the previous year.

Yet it’s quite possible that the largest imprint Angelle ever could make on the state, and a positive one, will come in his present job. As such, perhaps things worked for the best.

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