Southern states discuss energy issues at Biloxi conference

Southern states talk about energy issues

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The emphasis is on energy at a conference being held on the Mississippi Coast this week with a meeting of The Southern States Energy Board.

Issues discussed ranged from regulatory concerns to economic impact. The Southern States Energy Board represents 16 states and two U.S. Territories.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant serves as Chair of the Executive Committee.

At the event, he recognized how important the energy sector is to job creation and economic development. “Fourteen percent of the economy in Mississippi is based on energy. We are often time in the top ten for oil and particularly natural gas production,” said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College President Dr. Mary Graham talked to the group about programs that give students a head start when it comes to landing high paying jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree.

“At the end of the day,you’re prepared to go into the work force and earn a sustainable wage.Iin the workforce, the energy industry is a high paying job and Mississippi is ranked second for high paying jobs,” said Dr. Graham.

From Chevron in Jackson County to oil and gas interests at the Port of Gulfport, Mississippi is competing with other Southern states for energy related projects.

The Trump administration has rolled back a host of regulations. While Governor Bryant agrees with the policy and a lot of environmental groups are expressing concern, Bryant says it’s a balancing act.

“We breath this air. We drink this water so we’re working hard to maintain the environment. The President said the U.S. is going to be energy dominant. We’re looking to be an exporter nation of energy,” said the Governor.

Dr. Graham talked about the importance of developing relationships with the energy industry to maintain a pipeline for jobs. “Everything ranging from scholarships to donations of equipment to us training their incumbent workers to training new students,” according to Graham.

Governor Bryant said the recently passed infrastructure bill is a critical component in keeping Mississippi ahead of the game because transportation is important to the energy industry.

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