KENNER, La. - A chopper carrying a group of congressmen landed just before 4 Friday afternoon at a terminal of Armstrong International Airport, signaling an end to the offshore energy tour led by Congressman Steve Scalise, R- LA.
After he and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked down the tarmac, they and a handful of other congressmen reflected on the two-day trip on a deepwater drilling rig and production platform, paid for in part by Shell. The congressional tour was aimed at getting a first-hand look at the skills and technology used in the oil industry.
"The advance of technology, the responsible extraction of the resources here in the Gulf, will mean lower energy prices for working families across the country," said Cantor, R- VA.
But not everyone agrees the process is responsible. Members of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade gave the congressmen a special greeting, dressed in costume outside the airport area, because they believe the politicians are giving in to the oil industry.
"We're tired of our politicians pimping our state out to the oil industry," said Kristen Evans of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. "There's no excuse for 4,500 spills in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP spill. The problem the oil industry has is an accident problem."
A spokesman for Scalise said the BP oil disaster was discussed multiple times on the trip. But the congressman insists overall, the industry is safe.
"The best fisherman want to go by those rigs because that's where the fish are, because the fish actually thrive in that environment. In large part that's because of the environmental sensitivities [the oil rigs] have," said Scalise.
"Its something that we always applaud the industry, it's always been proactive and it really polices itself," said Rep. Steve Palazzo, R- MS
Those in the congressional tour group believe energy exploration will spur job growth and lower fuel costs. Those in the Bucket Brigade say that's all well and good as long as it doesn't damage the coast.
"They need to invest in the jobs, in the equipment that makes the industry safer. And you know what, that's going to be better for the economy," said Evans.
Scalise and Cantor both say they want a more consistent permitting process to drill in the Gulf.