Latest News

Louisiana DOTD Launches Statewide Transportation Plan Website

Date: November 13, 2023

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has launched the Statewide Transportation Plan website to share information and seek public input on transportation needs in the state. The site offers an overview of the statewide planning process, including updates to the aviation, freight, and rail modal plans. The website can be accessed here.

Meeting Highlights Carbon Emissions Reductions in Louisiana

Date: November 13, 2023

Louisiana’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and transition to clean energy has drawn over $50 billion in private investments in recent years, one of many measures of progress highlighted by a legislative task force, The Center Square reports.

“In the private sector, capital is moving to the energy transition in unprecedented ways,” Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards told the Climate Initiatives Task Force on Thursday, November 9. “This is about a global energy transition that’s taking root right here in Louisiana, and one that’s going to have tremendous economic benefits for our state and our people for generations to come.”

In the last six years, the private sector has announced more than $50 billion in low carbon and carbon-free projects in Louisiana, which are projected to create over 23,000 jobs, he said.

The meeting centered on progress on the state’s climate action plan, which calls for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% of 2005 levels by 2025, 40%-50% by 2030, and to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Efforts toward those goals are in large part federally funded by $9.11 billion in recent years. The money includes $3.83 billion for roads, bridges, and safety; $1.57 billion for internet; $1.29 billion for clean energy; $353 million for airports, ports and rail; $258 million for clean water systems; $202 million for public transportation; $164 million for electric vehicles; and $164 million for environmental remediation. Read more.

Tulane and LSU Awarded $22 Million to Save Lower Mississippi River Delta

Date: November 13, 2023

Tulane University and Louisiana State University have been awarded $22 million by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to lead a 15-member consortium that will chart a new course for the future of the fragile Lower Mississippi River Delta, Tulane News reports.

The region where the river meets the Gulf of Mexico is crucial for US commerce, energy, wildlife and fisheries and the people who live there, but it’s also one of the most vulnerable coastal areas in the world. Recent research shows the lower reaches of the delta retreating both above and below water. The river is also redirecting its flows to the east and west, which poses critical challenges to navigation and implications for water management, including the recent saltwater intrusion crisis.

The Mississippi River Delta Transition Initiative, or MissDelta, as the consortium is known, will include a team of 38 investigators working with the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program. The group will begin engaging stakeholders this year as they work to project the evolution of the disappearing delta through the year 2100 should nothing be done to forestall its erosion or counter threats from increasingly intense hurricanes, rising seas, ground subsidence, diminishing river sediment, coastal dead zones, navigation channel changes and growing maintenance costs.

“Preserving the fragile Lower Mississippi River Delta is not just a mission; it’s an imperative for our future,” said Bren Haase, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, a key consortium partner, along with the US Army Corps of Engineers, local communities and industries. “Together, we’ll navigate the challenges of sea-level rise, erosion and shifting river dynamics, forging a sustainable path forward for future generations.” Read more.

US Army Researchers Assist with Louisiana Saltwater Intrusion Efforts

Date: October 19, 2023

As residents of Louisiana prepare for possible disruptions in their drinking water caused by saltwater intrusion, researchers from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) are assisting the US Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District with assessment and mitigation efforts.

With much of the lower Mississippi River Valley experiencing extreme drought conditions, the lack of rainfall has led to lower levels of fresh water in the Mississippi River. This is allowing for a denser layer of salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to make its way upstream, threatening the drinking water supplies in several Louisiana communities, including New Orleans, according to an ERDC news release.

River conditions are low and have been for some time. The bed of the Mississippi River is much lower than the sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, and if there's not enough fresh water to apply pressure to keep the salt water in the Gulf of Mexico, then it slowly migrates upstream in the shape of a wedge.

“When fluids of different densities encounter each other — which in this case, salt water is denser than fresh water — they tend to stratify,” said Gary Brown, a research hydraulic engineer with the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. “So, the fresh water flows over the salt water, and the salt water flows under the fresh water.”

Salt water has been steadily migrating upstream against the current, and as long as those low river conditions persist, without intervention, that upstream migration will persist.

“Salt is not something that you can conventionally deal with in drinking water filtration,” said Brown. “You can't filter it out of the water, and it corrodes the pipes. It's a significant issue, not only for drinking, but also for agriculture and livestock.”

Though it’s a relatively new term to many, experts at ERDC have been studying these saltwater wedges and intrusion for decades. Read more.

Louisiana Misses Out on Federal Funding for Hydrogen Hubs

Date: October 19, 2023

The Biden administration is directing $7 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law to build seven regional hydrogen power hubs in 16 states, the White House recently announced.

The projects, each of which is a cluster of assets that produce and process hydrogen fuel as an alternative to fossil fuels, will benefit the climate, the economy and US energy security, administration officials told reporters, the Louisiana Illuminator reports.

“Advancing clean hydrogen is essential to achieving the President’s vision of a strong clean energy economy that strengthens energy security, bolsters domestic manufacturing, creates healthier communities, and delivers new jobs and economic opportunities across the nation,” a news release from the White House said.

Congress approved the funding as part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law early in President Joe Biden’s term in 2021. The projects will have assets in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, Minnesota, South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Montana, California, Delaware, Texas, North Dakota, and Illinois. A hub based in Houston could “perhaps” involve Louisiana, an administration official said.

Louisiana, which had formed the HALO Coalition with Arkansas and Oklahoma to compete for a green hydrogen hub, was left out of the allocations. “While we will not have the boost that the federal funding would have provided, Louisiana still has the infrastructure, expertise and interest available to be successful in hydrogen, just on a longer timetable,” state Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Patrick Courreges said in an email. “That future success will benefit from the connections we have made in the process of forming and advancing the HALO coalition.” Read more.

Salt Water Threatens South Louisiana Drinking Water

Date: September 21, 2023

As the Mississippi River drops to one of its lowest levels in recent history, the US Army Corps of Engineers said salt water from the Gulf of Mexico could threaten drinking water as far north as New Orleans’ French Quarter if no action is taken, New Orleans Public Radio reports.

The Corps announced plans to avoid that scenario by building upon an existing underwater barrier that has been in place to block the progression of salt water from intruding farther upriver since July. At its current height, the Corps expects the salt water creeping up the bottom of the Mississippi River to overtop the barrier later this week, sometime around September 22.

If that were to happen, the salt water would begin affecting drinking water in Belle Chasse by early October.

A pervasive drought throughout the Mississippi River Valley allowed seawater to encroach inland earlier this summer. By June, the residents living in lower Plaquemines Parish were forced to go without fresh drinking water and have been relying on water distributed by the parish.

Currently, Plaquemines Parish President W. Keith Hinkley said about 2,000 residents can’t drink their water due to salt contamination, and the parish has distributed more than 1.5 million gallons of water with little signs of reprieve. If the salt water reaches Belle Chasse, at least 20,000 more residents would be affected. Read more.

Renewable Power Expected to Grow in Louisiana

Date: September 21, 2023

Louisiana will soon mark the seventh annual National Clean Energy Week. While the state’s renewable power industry is slightly behind that of most other states, it is forecast to accelerate significantly over the coming years, the Louisiana Illuminator reports.

According to a press release, Governor John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation declaring September 25-29 as Clean Energy Week in Louisiana in conjunction with the national celebration. By most statistical categories, the celebration is warranted. Clean energy, or more specifically, renewable energy, has exploded in growth across the United States.

In its category of “clean energy,” the National Clean Energy Week organization includes natural gas, hydrogen, biomass, and propane even though those sources emit greenhouse gases and rely mostly on finite resources. “Renewable energy,” on the other hand, is more narrowly limited to solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal energy, which emit no pollution and rely on resources that are virtually infinite, like sunlight.

Solar energy has seen huge expansions nationwide, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. Utility-scale solar installations have increased 15-fold since 2013 in terms of generation capacity, from 6,626 megawatts to 98,907 megawatts in 2023. Residential installations have also increased at a similar rate, from 2,233 megawatts 10 years ago to 32,749 megawatts this year.

The solar industry workforce has grown roughly 85% over the last decade with more than 263,000 Americans employed at more than 10,000 companies across every state, according to the SEIA. Read more.

Louisiana Plugs Over 10% of Orphaned Oil Wells

Date: August 17, 2023

Contractors have successfully plugged more than 10% of Louisiana's orphaned oil well sites through the funding provided by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) passed in 2021. The state has already seen 519 wells plugged since mid-January, surpassing the highest number ever plugged in a full year by the state's Oilfield Site Restoration program, reports.

Orphaned well sites are designated by Louisiana's Office of Conservation when they lack a responsive operator, usually due to the operator going out of business or being unable to maintain compliance with state regulations. These orphaned wells have become a significant concern, with approximately 4,500 sites in Louisiana alone. The decline in oil and gas prices over recent years has exacerbated the number of orphaned wells as it financially strains companies in the industry.

The funding provided by the BIL, with an initial grant of $25 million and an additional $12.7 million from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, attracted larger-scale contractors who typically do not bid on smaller individual projects. This grant far exceeded the usual yearly funding allocated to closing up wells, which has facilitated the significant progress made so far.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has selected two primary contractors who have been working together with over a dozen crews in the field. The work is expected to continue until October, aiming to address a substantial portion of the orphaned well sites in Louisiana. Read more.

Louisiana, Texas to Get $1.2B for Carbon Capture Projects

Date: August 17, 2023

The US Department of Energy will spend $1.2 billion in Louisiana and Texas to create Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs, an effort expected to create 2,300 jobs in the Pelican State, The Center Square reports.

Project Cypress, to be located in Calcasieu Parish, will work in coordination with Climeworks Corporation and Heirloom Carbon Technologies to remove more than 1 million metric tons of existing CO2 from the atmosphere each year and store it underground.

The project would be one of two initial commercial-scale sites that the Biden administration wants to grow into a nationwide network of direct air capture facilities to address legacy pollution. The second site, the South Texas DAC Hub, is slated for Kleberg County.

The $1.2 billion in federal funding for the projects represents the largest investment in engineered carbon removal to date, with each hub expected to remove more than 250 times more carbon dioxide than the largest facility currently in operation, according to the Department of Energy.

In total, both projects are expected to remove 2 million metric tons of CO2, equivalent to the annual emissions of roughly 450,000 gasoline vehicles. The DOE cites estimates that the Biden administration's plan to reach net-zero emissions will require between 400 million and 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 removed from the atmosphere annually by 2050. Read more.

First Solar Chooses Louisiana to Build Fifth US Panel Factory

Date: August 17, 2023

First Solar has selected Louisiana to build its fifth US factory amid a surge in demand for American-made solar panels. The company plans to invest $1.1 billion to set up the facility at Acadiana Regional Airport in Iberia Parish in the southeastern state, Reuters reports.

President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, a law passed last year that incentivizes homegrown production of clean energy equipment, is underpinning a boom in solar factory investments.

The project is expected to be completed by the first half of 2026 and would add 3.5 gigawatts of manufacturing capacity for the company, First Solar said.

Solar project developers in the US have flocked to First Solar's cadmium telluride products partially because the technology does not rely on polysilicon, a raw material primarily made in China and used in the vast majority of panels.

Louisiana DOTD Gets $10.5M for Columbia Port Commission

Date: July 20, 2023

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development recently announced the Columbia Port Commission would receive $10.5 million in grant funding from the US Department of Transportation, according to Transportation Today News.

The grants, part of the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, will allow the commission to fund the Grant Ouachita River & La Highway. 165 Multimodal Connectivity and Safety Project which will build a state-of-the-art truck parking facility at the Port of Columbia. Officials said the facility would have surface parking for an estimated 50 commercial trucks, 100 cars and 12 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

“Our ports are a critical part of our economic system in the state, and also provides support for some of the most critical freight movements in the country,” said Renee Lapeyrolerie, DOTD commissioner of multimodal commerce. “Approximately 33% of freight that comes through Louisiana travels by water, and this grant will enhance our port program.”

Officials said the project will begin in late 2023 and be completed in early 2027, weather permitting. Read more.

Louisiana Commission Approves Renewable Projects

Date: July 20, 2023

Southwestern Electric Power Co. has received approval by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) to move forward with its fuel-free power plan to acquire up to 999 megawatts of renewable generation resources, according to a news release.

The LPSC approved the terms of a settlement agreement reached on March 10, 2023, by all parties in the proceeding, subject to certain procedural conditions moving forward. This effort will help meet projected power needs while protecting customers from volatility in energy costs.

The additional generating capacity is necessary to meet the energy needs of SWEPCO customers. That need has increased due to new rules from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) that require utilities to have available additional generation capacity to support reliability. SPP is the 14-state grid-balancing authority that includes Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.

“SWEPCO’s analysis of our generation needs showed that the lowest cost, best value option for capacity was adding wind and solar resources,” said Brett Mattison, SWEPCO president and Chief Operating Officer. “We appreciate our regulatory commissioners allowing us to bring more low-cost, renewable energy to Louisiana customers.”

One solar and two wind projects are to be constructed by Invenergy and acquired by SWEPCO. The three projects were identified through a competitive bidding process. They are:
  • Mooringsport, a 200 MW solar facility located in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
  • Diversion, a 200.6 MW wind facility in Baylor County, Texas
  • Wagon Wheel, a 598.4 MW wind facility located in Garfield, Kingfisher, Logan, Payne, and Noble counties in Oklahoma. Read more.

Department of Health Releases Grades for Louisiana Water Systems

Date: June 16, 2023

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has released final water grades for 951 community water systems across the state, a process that creates accountability for water systems and provides transparency for water system customers, according to a news release. Amanda Ames, P.E., chief engineer for the Louisiana Department of Health, led the initiative's implementation.

The water grades are enabled under Act 98 of the 2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, and is known as the Community Drinking Water Accountability Rule. The grades are calculated using points assigned to seven standards that evaluate the infrastructure, sustainability, and overall water quality. The grading system provides residents with a snapshot of the quality of their community water systems, and to encourage water systems to invest in improvements or explore consolidating with another water system to improve sustainability.

Water grade distribution

  • A: 386 systems, or 41%
  • B: 256 systems, or 27%
  • C: 171 systems, or 18%
  • D: 56 systems, or 6%
  • F: 82 systems, or 9%

Commission Awards Feasibility Study for Louisiana International Terminal infrastructure

Date: June 16, 2023

Governor John Bel Edwards recently praised the award of a contract to study the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor (among other roadway improvements) to support the Louisiana International Terminal, a $1.8 billion container terminal planned by the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) in Violet, Louisiana. The new terminal will be able to serve vessels of all sizes, dramatically increasing Louisiana’s import and export capacity and stimulating the creation of more than 18,000 jobs statewide and more than $1 billion in local and state tax revenue, the American Journal of Transportation reports.

The Regional Planning Commission awarded the Lower St. Bernard/Louisiana International Terminal Roadway Network and Resilience Study to GIS Engineering, LLC. The study marks the next phase of the St. Bernard Transportation Corridor project, an elevated roadway that will connect the future Louisiana International Terminal with I-510 and create a new major artery in and out of St. Bernard Parish. Read more.

Baton Rouge PE Named NSPE Fellow

Date: May 17, 2023

Bart Kemper, P.E., D.F.E.

NSPE has welcomed Bart Kemper, P.E., D.F.E., into its 2023 Class of Fellows. He joins four other PEs in receiving the membership level that honors NSPE members who have demonstrated exemplary and devoted service to the profession, the Society, and their communities. Kemper is the principal engineer of Kemper Engineering Services. He has served in various roles in the Louisiana Engineering Society and is a past president of the Baton Rouge chapter. He currently serves on NSPE’s Committee on Policy and Advocacy.

Louisiana DOTD Announces $164.8 Million in Funding for Statewide Projects

Date: May 17, 2023

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) recently announced that it is funding statewide projects totaling $164.8 million, and six NELA parishes will be getting upgrades, reports.

Caldwell, Catahoula, Madison, Ouachita, West Carroll, and Winn Parishes will have bridge replacement, pavement and overlay, and congestion mitigation and safety projects done as part of this statewide investment from the DOTD.

The projects and their funding are as follows:

  • Caldwell Parish - $2,195,811.55 for milling, patching, overlay, and drainage on LA 547 between McKnight Rd. and LA 845.
  • Catahoula Parish - $328,700.00 for duty/enterprise ferry drydock for repairs, maintenance, and painting
  • Madison Parish - $2,595,206.60 for reflectors and striping on I-20 between Richland Parish line and LA 602-2
  • Ouachita Parish - $1,917,860.00 for replacement of Pine Bluff Rd. and Tack Allen Rd. bridges
  • West Carroll Parish - $2,685,774.00 for milling and overlay on LA 588 between Copes Rd. and LA 585
  • Winn Parish - $2,856,590.01 for pavement rehabilitation and overlay on LA 1238 between LA 127 and Weatherford Rd.

Louisiana Energy Conference - May 30-June 1 in New Orleans

Date: May 17, 2023

The 2023 Louisiana Energy Conference will be held at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, May 30-June 1. LEC 2023 will feature a series of approximately 27 presentations, panels, and discussions that will address key domestic and international oil, natural gas, renewable and clean energy developments, and topics.

Industry participants and advisors comprised of executives from over 80 organizations, including public and private energy companies as well as advisory, investment, private equity, industry trade groups, regulatory agencies, and support firms will be on hand for all presentations and panels. Access a detailed, current agenda on the conference web site,

Governor Unveils Online Dashboard for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Projects

Date: April 17, 2023

Governor  John Bel Edwards recently unveiled a new website to help Louisianans learn about the projects and opportunities in their communities from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The “Building the Bayou State” website features a dashboard with an interactive map to provide details on awarded BIL projects across the state, according to a news release.

The map can be filtered by category, program, agency, parish and congressional district. The site also features BIL implementation progress and priorities, resources and guidelines on how you can become involved, an archive of news and announcements, reference tools for upcoming events, and deadlines for open funding opportunities.

Wind Energy Boom Takes Shape in the Heart of Louisiana's Oil Industry

Date: April 17, 2023

A first-of-its-kind ship for the offshore wind industry wasn’t halfway built when an order for a second one came into Edison Chouest, a Houma shipbuilder that has for decades specialized in vessels that service the offshore oil and gas industry.

And things are just getting started, reports. Standing under the towering unfinished frame of the 262-foot-long Eco Chouest, company vice president Robert Clemons predicted even more ship-building contracts as wind turbines begin sprouting in US waters. “They’re going to need 15 or 20 of these things over the next 25 years,” he said. “And they’re going to need whole flotillas of other assets to supply the industry.”

The Eco is the first offshore wind service ship built in the US. Once completed next year, the vessel will serve as a “floating hotel” for 60 technicians who will maintain the dozens of turbines planned or under construction on the East Coast, Clemons said.

While no wind farms have been built in the Gulf of Mexico, the region is already benefiting from the East Coast wind boom. That’s because many of the skills needed in the Gulf’s offshore oil and gas industry are directly transferable to building and servicing wind farms. Read more.

Louisiana in a Position to Cash in on Top-Dollar Energy Investments

Date: April 17, 2023

While there is some uncertainty with current economic conditions, experts say Louisiana is still well-positioned to take advantage of top-dollar investment opportunities as the energy industry continues to transition away from fossil fuels toward renewables, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

Louisiana has seen a flurry of investment decisions within the last four to six months, with billions of dollars of investments are being funneled into opportunities relating to energy transition and decarbonization, according to Louisiana energy consultant David Dismukes, former executive director of the LSU Center for Energy Studies, who spoke during this morning’s Louisiana Energy Outlook webcast—hosted by 10/12 Industry Report. Also participating in the webcast were ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery Manager Dave Oldreive and Amy Chronis, an energy and chemicals leader and Houston managing partner for Deloitte LLP.

Driven by the post-pandemic economic recovery of fuel markets, the state’s existing refineries saw record production rates last year, says Oldreive, who is optimistic about Louisiana’s energy future.  “Louisiana has the ideal geography and existing pipelines that can be repurposed for carbon capture,” Oldreive says. “And that same workforce can build new facilities in the energy transition space.” Read more.

NSPE Member Honored for Professional Excellence

Date: March 17, 2023

 Bart Kemper, P.E., D.F.E.

NSPE member Bart Kemper, P.E., D.F.E., was named the recipient of the Dudley Hixson – Bobby Price Award by the Louisiana Engineering Society for his contributions to the professional engineering community.

The award is named in honor of Thomas Dudley Hixson, P.E., PLS  and Bobby Price, Ph.D., P.E., two distinguished members who served as presidents of the LES and NSPE. The award recognizes the recipient's accomplishments and service to the engineering profession, and seeks to encourage and inspire others to volunteer to service the society and the profession at the chapter, state, regional and national levels.

Kemper is the principal engineer of Kemper Engineering Services and is licensed in 10 states and in Queensland, Australia. He served in the US Army and retired as Lt. Colonel, US Army Corps of Engineers, in 2020.

Kemper has served in various roles in LES and is a past president of the Baton Rouge chapter. He currently serves on NSPE's Committee on Policy and Advocacy and is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers. Read more about Kemper's service accomplishments in the Louisiana Engineer and Surveyor Journal (pg. 31).

Louisiana's Largest Ports and LSU Partner to Protect Critical Infrastructure

Date: March 17, 2023

LSU and the largest ports in Louisiana announced a partnership to develop cybersecurity talent and technology for critical infrastructure. The collaborative effort connects the university's growing strengths in cybersecurity to the ports' pivotal role in the global supply chain and in securing food, energy, goods and materials for the nation and world, according to a news release.

The agreement between LSU and its port partners outlines opportunities for students and faculty to work with the ports to solve ongoing and emerging cyber challenges. It includes the potential development of cybersecurity testbeds, which are controllable cyber environments for experiments, and joint research to protect port systems as well as broadened collaboration with state and federal security and law enforcement agencies. Primarily, the partnership unites university and port assets to support homegrown cyber talent development for Louisiana.

The five partner ports include Port Fourchon on the Gulf of Mexico and four ports along the Mississippi River—Port of Greater Baton Rouge, Port of New Orleans, Port of South Louisiana, and St. Bernard Port—which comprise the largest port complex in the world. Louisiana ports carry one-fourth of all waterborne commerce in the United States. Read more.

The NASA Economic Impact on Louisiana

Date: March 17, 2023

NASA has a unique mission that provides benefits in big and small ways as funding spent for space exploration create jobs, jumpstarts businesses, and grows the economy. NASA's economic impact is nationwide, but how does Louisiana benefit?

Louisiana is home to NASA's Michould Assembly Facility. There are 189 NASA federal jobs and 1,520 contractors in the state. For every NASA federal job located in Louisiana, an additional 12.8 jobs are supported in the state economy. For every million dollars' worth of economic output generated by these federal jobs, an additional $4.3 million worth of output is sustained throughout the state economy. Read more.

Led by Energy Projects, Louisiana Tops $20 Billion in Total Economic Investment

Date: February 14, 2023

Louisiana leveraged its unique business advantages, sector diversity and support for innovation and climate action in 2022 to generate $20.7 billion in capital investment and more than 18,000 direct, indirect, and retained jobs, Business & Innovation Connection reports.

It marks the second consecutive year of more than $20 billion in economic investment, third consecutive year of more than $10 billion of investment and the fifth consecutive year-over-year investment growth, according to the Louisiana Economic Development 2022 Annual Report.

The report highlights the 9,035 new direct and indirect jobs and 9,102 retained jobs resulting from 53 state-supported economic development projects across the state’s eight economic regions last year. Included are 12 major projects with investments of more than $100 million and four mega-projects with investments of more than $1 billion:

  • Clean Hydrogen Works’ proposed $7.5 billion hydrogen-ammonia production and export facility and CF Industries’ $2 billion ammonia plant project with carbon capture, both in Ascension Parish;
  • Port NOLA’s $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal project in St. Bernard Parish; and
  • Venture Global’s final investment decision for its LNG facility project in Plaquemines Parish, which increased the originally announced capital investment from $8.5 billion to $13.2 billion. Read more.

Louisiana DOTD Breaks Ground on LA 70 Widening Project

Date: February 14, 2023

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., along with state and local officials, recently celebrated the start of construction on the LA 70 widening project in Ascension and St. James Parishes.

This $53.2 million project will widen LA 70 from the LA 22 interchange in Sorrento to the base of the Sunshine Bridge on the east side of the Mississippi River. A separate two-lane highway will be constructed parallel to the existing two-lane road, forming a four-lane divided highway.

“Because of the industry growth in this region, we have seen the need to move this project forward. This capacity project will be immensely beneficial to this region as it continues to grow and will allow for easier and safer travels for the businesses and industry of the region, as well as the citizens who use LA 70 on a regular basis,” Wilson stated in a news release. “The community and the trades rely on an efficient roadway system for their economic growth, which is what this project will accomplish for the success and future of not only Ascension and St. James Parishes, but this region of the state.”

Currently, more than 33,000 vehicles travel along this corridor daily. In the next 20 years, the number of motorists who will utilize this corridor is anticipated to increase to nearly 50,000 vehicles per day. Crews are currently working on utility relocations, with roadway construction estimated to begin in April, with an estimated completion in Spring 2025, weather permitting.

Louisiana Gets Federal Assistance to Tackle 'Orphan' Oil Well Problem

Date: January 20, 2023

The federal government is establishing an office dedicated to cleaning up abandoned oil and gas sites, a move that Louisiana officials say will likely speed the process of tackling the state's growing 'orphan' well problem, The Advocate reports.

The US Interior Department announced last week that the new Orphan Wells Program Office would ensure the "effective, accountable and efficient" spending of $4.7 billion the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act aims to pour into the plugging of abandoned wells.

The rusty remnants of the oil and gas industry's boom years litter the state. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources has documented about 4,600 orphan wells, but the total number is likely larger and growing by the day as small and mid-sized companies shut down and the industry shifts its focus to cheaper fossil fuel sources outside the state. Read more.

Louisiana Agency Unveils New Coastal Plan

Date: January 20, 2023

Officials with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority are forging ahead with a new coastal master plan for 2023, and are now moving into a public comment phase through March, The Center Square reports.

CPRA officials discussed progress with the plan during a recent meeting before the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board in Baton Rouge. The 2023 plan builds on the previous master plan's efforts to reduce storm surge-based flood risk, provide habitats to support an array of commercial and recreational activities, and support infrastructure critical to the working coast over the next five decades. The annual plan presented to the state legislature this year will surpass last year's plan with an estimated $25 billion in restoration projects. Read more.

State Licensing Board Meeting

Date: January 20, 2023

The Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board will hold its next meeting on Monday, January 23.
Access meeting information here.

DOTD Receives $3 Million to Improve Louisiana Rail Infrastructure

Date: December 13, 2022

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announced the first projects selected to receive a total of $3 million in grant funding under the Class II and III Rail Infrastructure Improvement Program.

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) received $1.5 million to construct the NOPB Transloading Industrial Park in New Orleans East. WATCO’s Louisiana Southern Railroad also received $1.5 million for track, rail, and bridge upgrades between Hodge and Gibsland in North Louisiana. These improvements will increase fluidity and modernize the respective rail networks, support commerce and the supply chain, while also increasing resiliency needed to combat climate change issues, according to a news release.

“The Department of Transportation is committed to improving all the infrastructure needs in the state, and this includes our rail lines,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “Our freight and passenger rail infrastructure needs improving if we want to continue successfully moving goods throughout the state. These grants will do just that: improve upgrades on the tracks of our rail infrastructure, support transloading, and increase rail cars moving throughout our state and ports.” Read more.

Year One of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Date: December 13, 2022

The Biden Administration recently updated state and territory fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. To date, over $4 billion in funding has been announced and is headed to Louisiana with over 120 specific projects identified for funding. Access information about Louisiana projects here.

Rehab of Nation’s Third Longest Bridge Complete

Date: November 16, 2022

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has completed the $12 million US 90 Atchafalaya River Bridge rehabilitation project, according to a news release.

As part of DOTD’s bridge preservation program, the project involved replacing needed structural metalwork and sandblasting and repainting the steel members of the bridge. Work began on the project in August 2019 and was completed in October 2022.

Built in the 1970’s, the Atchafalaya River Bridge serves as a vital connection and hurricane evacuation route for local communities and industries in coastal Louisiana. It is the third longest bridge in the US.

LNG Summit Focuses on Industry’s Future

Date: November 16, 2022

Leaders of the liquefied natural gas industry recently met in Lake Charles to discuss strategic and technological developments in the industry. Louisiana has become the country’s primary LNG exporter, according to The Advocate.

The LNG & Gas Summit & Exposition was held there for the second year in a row. One topic of interest was the potential for America to become a major source of gas for European nations, due to the war in Ukraine. The industry’s growth has brought tens of billions of dollars in investment to the region, but also concern from environmentalists. LNG is cleaner than coal but is still a major source of greenhouse emissions. Read more.

New Pump Station to Stem Land Loss in Louisiana Bayou

Date: October 20, 2022

A new pump station should help correct the problem of saltwater intrusion on the Lafourche and Terrebonne Estuaries, which have experienced some of the largest land loss rates in the world, according to

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority says it has been planning the construction of a pump station in Donaldsonville, where Bayou Lafourche meets the Mississippi River, for years. “The addition of the new pump station will effectively triple the amount of freshwater entering the bayou and flowing downstream into the Lafourche and Terrebonne Estuaries,” the agency stated. Construction of the pump begins this month, starting with a groundbreaking ceremony on the October 21.

Energy Companies Working Together to Reduce Carbon Emissions

Date: October 20, 2022

Three major global energy corporations – CF Industries, ExxonMobil and EnLink Midstream – are collaborating on an “unprecedented” decarbonization effort aimed at dramatically reducing industrial CO2 emissions in Louisiana. The recent announcement described the venture as a potential business prototype for industrial-scale carbon capture and sequestration projects.

The three companies have entered into the largest-of-its-kind commercial agreement to capture emissions from CF Industries’ Ascension Parish manufacturing complex, transport the CO2 through EnLink’s transportation network, and permanently store it underground on property owned by ExxonMobil in Vermilion Parish.

“[The] announcement of this unprecedented, large-scale, low-carbon partnership is a key milepost on Louisiana’s path toward a brighter future for our climate, our economy and our people,” Governor John Bel Edwards said in a news release. The companies expect the project to begin in early 2025. They estimate it will allow them to capture and sequester up to 2 million metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to replacing approximately 700,000 gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles. Read more.

Louisiana Secures $73 Million for EV Charging Infrastructure

Date: September 22, 2022

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Deployment Plan and will allocate approximately $73 million in federal funding to Louisiana over the next five years, according to a news release.

This plan, which was submitted to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program on August 1, outlines the intent to administer federal funds through a grant program currently under development. The grant program will fund up to 80% of EV charging infrastructure with a minimum 20% match by grant recipients.

“These funds will allow the state to move forward and provide additional fueling infrastructure to the ever-changing transportation industry,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “Louisiana’s EV charging network is relatively low compared to our neighboring states, and we must be able to accommodate the growing shift in the way people travel. Creating a more sustainable and cleaner environment is of the utmost importance, and one way of accommodating this is by having more charging stations and allowing them to be affordable to the everyday motorist.”

DOTD will begin accepting grant applications in early 2023 for recipients to own, install, and operate EV charging stations that meet federal requirements. Recipients are anticipated to be selected, and funds dispersed, by summer 2023. The department is planning future outreach activities and virtual meetings to solicit feedback. For additional information, contact

East Baton Rouge Utility Plan Would Improve Flood Resilience, Officials Say

Date: September 22, 2022

Leaders in East Baton Rouge Parish want to combine city and parish stormwater systems into a public utility district that would allow them to assess a new fee, which would help with planning for resiliency and flood protection measures, The Advocate reports.

The Metro Council was slated to consider an agreement between the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish to create the utility in mid-September. Creating a fee under the utility district will require a separate vote, which would be held later in 2022, city-parish spokesman Mark Armstrong said.

“We need something to continue the progress and increase flood resiliency, decrease flood potential and protect our residents,” Armstrong was quoted. “Establishing a utility is something that needs to be done. That is how you adequately address your separate stormwater sewer system.”

The utility district will allow the city-parish to construct, improve, operate, and maintain the stormwater system, according to a council memo. Read more.

Transmission Project Aimed at Shoring Up Electric Reliability

Date: September 22, 2022

Entergy Louisiana recently began construction of a $100 million transmission project that aims to build resilience and increase the reliability of its electric grid in southwest Louisiana. The project will also increase capacity to hopefully attract new economic development projects in the region while benefitting existing customers, including those in industry.

The Mud Lake to Big Lake transmission project spans from an existing substation west of Mud Lake near the Calcasieu and Cameron parish line to a new substation being built in Lake Charles.

The project will take place in phases and is scheduled for completion next summer. Major components of the work include:

  • Construction of nearly 15 miles of (230kV and 69kV) transmission lines
  • Construction of a new substation, Big Lake substation
  • Upgrades at three existing substations, including Mud Lake substation
  • Installation of approximately 150 poles or structures
Portions of the new transmission line will be built to withstand winds up to 140 and 150 mph, with a crossing at Calcasieu River and Intracoastal Waterway being built to withstand winds of up to 175 mph, Entergy reports. Read more.

Louisiana to Receive $63M in Federal Grants for Infrastructure

Date: August 17, 2022

Governor John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., announced that five Louisiana applicants are set to receive a total of $63.1 million in federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants from the US Department of Transportation. The RAISE grant program is the first discretionary funding program to accept applications as directed by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to a news release.

The RAISE grants will be allocated as follows:

  • $22,164,000: Roadway and intersection improvements on the healthcare corridor near the intersection of I-49 and I-20 in Shreveport (includes reconstructed roadways and transit bus pull-outs, bus rapid transit with electric bus technology, ADA improvements, traffic signal and emergency vehicle preemption improvements, pedestrian facilities including a pedestrian bridge, protected bicycle lanes, and street lighting).
  • $20,000,000: Right-of-way acquisition, design, and construction of the Baton Rouge Train Station and Gonzales Train Station along the planned Baton Rouge-New Orleans Inter-City Rail Service (including ADA accessible platforms and stations and supporting infrastructure).
  • $17,253,272: Rehabilitation of the Texas Street Business Corridor from the Highway 1 South Bypass to Washington Street in Natchitoches (includes rehabilitation of roads and drainage facilities, new pavement, new and widened sidewalks, walking paths, and dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes).
  • $2,626,679: Replacement of the existing closed, dilapidated Valentine Pontoon Bridge over Bayou Lafourche on LA 1 and LA 308 between Lockport and Larose with a more modern pontoon bridge.
  • $1,099,455: Replacement of a gravel roadway with a hard-surface roadway to the Pointe-a-la-Hache ferry facility (includes the addition of a new southbound left turn lane on LA 23, a northbound deceleration turn lane and acceleration lane, subsurface drainage improvements, and a parking area to accommodate commuters).

River Commission Inspection, Public Meetings Scheduled

Date: August 17, 2022

The Mississippi River Commission will conduct its annual low-water inspection trip on the Mississippi River, August 22 – 26, 2022. Four public meetings are scheduled aboard the Motor Vessel "Mississippi" in selected towns along the river. A meeting in Morgan City, Louisiana, will take place on Friday, August 26, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Port Commission Dock.

Commission members will meet with local partners, stakeholders and residents and hear their concerns, ideas, and issues. Interested parties are invited to present their views on matters affecting the water resources infrastructure needs in the valley, including flood control, the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, and other water resources challenges.

Additional meetings will be held in Tiptonville, Tennessee (Riverside Park) on August 22; in Memphis, Tennessee (Beale Street Landing) on August 23; and Vicksburg, Mississippi (City Front) on August 24.

Louisiana Legislation Update

Date: July 20, 2022

NSPE successfully worked with the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing to ensure that an occupational licensing bill (S.B. 483) would not negatively impact licensing for professional engineers and architects in Louisiana. The Society and ARPL believe that the legislation posed a significant erosion of public protection through licensure.

An article featured in the June issue of PE Matters failed to mention that actions were taken to ensure that licensed engineers and architects were exempt from the provisions of the legislation and incorrectly stated that the bill was referred to the governor’s office by the Senate.

An additional bill (H.B. 1062) was passed by the state legislature that ARPL believes contains a subtle threat to licensure. This bill allows private citizens to sue an occupational licensing board if they believe that licensing regulations are not the least restrictive as possible. The legislation becomes effective on August 1.

Louisiana PEs also gained a legislative win with passage of a bill (H.B. 305) to define the scope of practice for architects engaging in incidental engineering. PEs have been working with architects in the state for over eight years on this issue. After many meetings and restarts, they finally got it through.

Louisiana Climate Task Force Eyes Hydrogen Energy for Federal Dollars

Date: July 20, 2022

Eyeing billions in federal infrastructure dollars, Louisiana's Climate Initiatives Task Force is evaluating several ongoing projects including a transition to hydrogen energy and building electrical vehicle infrastructure. But the effort faces a significant obstacle to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050, according to a New Orleans City Business article.

The task force has already begun to pick what its members call "low-hanging fruit" in the form of updating Louisiana's building efficiency standards. Thanks to the Louisiana Legislature's passage of Act 635 this year, a new one-time commission will review the latest international standards to propose amendments to state building codes that address energy efficiency.

Jacqueline Dadakis with the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council said at a task force meeting Tuesday that the state consistently ranks worst in the nation on total energy costs for residential buildings.

According to the Environmental Energy and Study Institute, residential and commercial buildings are responsible for almost 40% of US carbon dioxide emissions through their manufacture and assembly as well as their use of electricity for lighting, heating, cooling and running appliances.

"I think we're looking at about a 35 to 40% improvement on future buildings," Dadakis said.

University Launches Smart Oilfield Concentration

Date: July 20, 2022

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has launched a smart oilfield concentration for petroleum engineering majors with courses beginning in the fall. The concentration is designed to prepare students for jobs in an oil and gas industry that increasingly relies on evolving technology for efficient, safe, and environmentally sound exploration and production.

It is the only program of its kind in the country, Ahmed Khattab, dean of the College of Engineering, stated in a news release. The smart oilfield concentration will integrate the college's current petroleum engineering degree program’s sub-surface expertise with smart drilling, machine learning, and data analytics, he explained.

"Its addition is part of our comprehensive plan to address conventional and renewable energy by providing cutting-edge degree programs, minors and concentrations that augment our traditional energy base and meet industry and community needs," Khattab added.

The concentration features a blend of courses and labs that focus on coding, statistics, machine learning, automation, predictive capabilities, carbon capture, computational fluid dynamics, smart drilling, and the economic feasibility of exploration in specific locations.

Lawmakers Approve Bill to Fast-Track Licensing for Out-of-State Professionals

Date: June 16, 2022

A bill that would require occupational boards and commissions to fast-track the licensing of out-of-state licensees moving to Louisiana has been approved by the state Senate and House, and was sent to the governor’s desk for signature. This legislation will affect the professional engineer license.

The occupational licensing bill, Senate Bill 483, was sponsored by Senator Stewart Cathey Jr., who said the state needs to make it easier for professionals to move to and work in Louisiana.

Industrial Pumping Contaminating Drinking Water in Baton Rouge

Date: June 16, 2022

Baton Rouge’s drinking water source is under threat of contamination from saltwater due to over pumping by industrial operations, The Guardian reports. In Louisiana, industry uses more groundwater than in any other state except California, according to the US Geological Survey.

The city’s water is pulled from the Southern Hills aquifer. Companies like Exxon and Georgia Pacific pump billions of gallons of water from the aquifer each year, with no regulatory caps. Attempts at regulation have met heavy resistance, the article states.

The aquifer is the primary water source for 500,000 people in six parishes. Without intervention, it could become undrinkable, according to a Louisiana legislative auditor report.

Louisiana Voters Support Professional Licensing

Date: May 18, 2022

Louisiana citizens believe that professional licensing is essential to protecting the public, according to a survey released by the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL), a coalition that includes NSPE. ARPL sought out the opinions of Louisiana voters because of recent legislative pushes to reduce or eliminate professional licensure.

The survey results reveal widespread public support for maintaining rigorous professional licensing standards for professions that have a clear impact on public health, safety, and welfare.

  • 91% of voters believe it is important that licensing systems keep consumers and the public safe by establishing standards for professions that impact public health and safety.
  • 91% of voters believe it is important that licensing systems ensure that competent, qualified professionals are servicing the public.
  • 90% of voters say licensing is important to them because it helps consumers identify qualified professionals and access information about the professionals they hire.
  • 89% of Louisiana voters would be 'concerned' if Louisiana eliminated minimum qualifications for engineers, architects, landscape architects, surveyors, and CPAs–including 77% of the public who would be 'very concerned' if such legislation passed.

System Restoration Bonds to Enable Faster Reconnection After Storms

Date: May 18, 2022

Entergy Louisiana will raise $3.1 billion in bonds to enable faster reconnection for customers after severe storms. The system restoration bonds will be secured by charges to ratepayers in the Louisiana Public Service Commission's jurisdiction, according to the Asset Securitization Report.

The funds will support certain system restoration costs related to damages caused by hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta in 2020, and Winter Storm Uri in 2021, according to Moody's Investors Service. Funds will also be used to establish a special Hurricane Ida escrow for storm damage, and re-establish a regular storm damage reserve escrow for the company's operations. More than 40,000 people lost power for days after Uri.

Louisiana Refineries Release Dangerous Levels of Benzene

Date: May 18, 2022

Four oil refineries in Louisiana, along with six others that have air pollution monitors in the US, were found to be releasing benzene at levels that could pose a long-term health threat to surrounding communities, according to industry data compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project.

Benzene, a gaseous compound that evaporates from gasoline and other petroleum products, is known to cause a variety of health problems that include anemia, nervous system damage, suppression of immune systems, and leukemia.

EPA adopted new federal regulations in 2012 that require petroleum refineries to monitor benzene concentrations along their fence lines and report the results to the government every three months. If the monitoring data identify annual average benzene concentrations above the "action level" after excluding background and offsite concentrations, refineries are required to conduct a root-cause analysis to identify and clean up the emission sources.

The EIP study found dangerously high levels of the gas had been detected at the fence lines of Louisiana refineries Valero St Charles Norco, Chalmette Refining, and Countrymark Refining and Logistics. Read more.

State’s Unreliable Electrical Grid Will be Evaluated by Engineering Firm

Date: April 14, 2022

Louisiana’s elected utility regulators want outside engineers to evaluate the state’s electrical infrastructure to explain why so many wires and poles come down after storms, causing outages. The state’s annual average outage durations are nearly twice the US average, according to The Advocate.

Even taking major storms into consideration, Louisiana is 47th in the nation in grid reliability, said Craig Greene, R-Baton Rouge, one of the five regulators on the Public Service Commission. The regulators plan to hire an engineering firm next month to draw up a statewide resiliency plan.

Chemical Manufacturing Expected To Have a Great Year in Louisiana

Date: April 14, 2022

Industry leaders say the outlook for chemical manufacturing in Louisiana is the best they have seen in years, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

Low natural gas prices and rising demand for vehicles and homes contributed to that confidence. In addition, they feel Louisiana is well-positioned for the transition to a lower-carbon, more sustainable future, according to participants in a webinar hosted by 10/12 Industry Report and Business Report. However, concerns about inflation and companies’ supply chains were also voiced.

The more optimistic participants emphasized that Louisiana’s geology is conducive to carbon capture and sequestration projects, and said the industry’s role in the energy transition could be important for attracting and retaining talent.

Electrical Modernization Increases Power Reliability in Northern Louisiana

Date: March 14, 2022

Electric utility company Entergy Louisiana recently completed a $100 million project across Ouachita Parish that positioned the region for economic growth and increased the resilience and reliability of the electric system in north Louisiana. New transmission equipment was installed, and portions of the local, existing transmission system were upgraded. This work made the electric system in the area more interconnected with higher capacity, which will help the company deliver power now and into the future by way of clean generating resources such as solar.

While the project enhanced service reliability, it should also help import lower cost power that would keep the region attractive to existing or new customers, including those turning to electrification to reach sustainability goals, the company stated. Find out more.

South Louisiana the US Area Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

Date: March 14, 2022

A recent United Nations report on climate change says increasingly volatile weather events make the future of South Louisiana uncertain. Rising seas and the sinking of the Mississippi River due to human interventions make South Louisiana the most vulnerable place to climate change in the US, according to a article.

A Louisiana climatologist quoted in the piece agreed with the UN report and said that the loss of sediment from leveeing the river and saltwater intrusion caused by coastal oil and gas development are two major causes of the Mississippi sinking.

Online License Renewals and Certifications

Date: February 16, 2022

The Louisiana Professional Engineering and Surveying Board has opened the online license renewals and certifications site for licenses expiring on March 31, 2022.

PEs and EIs in active, inactive, or retired (normal) statuses may renew online here. Individuals that have not signed into their account since July 2021, will need to reset their password before renewing a license/certification. In addition, PE licensees renewing into active status must comply with the CPD requirements found here.

State and Federal Governments Move Toward Wind Energy Production in Gulf

Date: February 16, 2022

Within the first six weeks of 2022, both state and federal governments have taken steps toward offshore wind energy development off the coast of Louisiana. On February 1, the Climate Initiatives Task Force submitted the Louisiana Climate Action Plan to Governor Edwards, according to a JDSupra article.

The plan offers strategies and actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Louisiana. The development of offshore wind energy would aid in meeting the state’s goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

PBF Energy Working Toward Renewable Production at Chalmette Refinery

Date: February 16, 2022

In its latest quarterly earnings report, PBF Energy said it is focused on building a renewable fuels production facility at its refinery in Chalmette refinery. The project incorporates existing company assets, including an idle hydrocracker, along with a newly constructed pre-treatment unit to establish a 20,000 barrel per day renewable diesel production facility.

This company has been working toward this endeavor for more than a year, focusing so far on completing engineering, permitting, securing longer-lead time equipment and commencing initial site preparations with the goal of being in production in the first half of 2023. Also, PBF says it is continuing discussions with potential strategic and financial partners.

Petroleum Engineering Degree Highly Popular in Louisiana

Date: February 16, 2022

According to data from the US Census Bureau, the most concentrated degree in Louisiana relative to the US as a whole is petroleum engineering. Adults in the state are about seven times more likely to have a degree in the field than the typical American adult, The Center Square reports. An estimated 0.41% of adults in the state have a petroleum engineering degree compared to 0.06% of adults nationwide.

Though demand for workers with this specific degree appears to be higher than average in the state, compensation is not necessarily higher than average. Adults with a petroleum engineering degree in Louisiana earn an average of $65,676 per year compared to the average income among all Americans with the degree of $84,648. It is important to note that average annual earnings include all adults with the degree, even those who are working part-time or not working.

Marsh Restoration Underway at Lake Borgne

Date: January 19, 2022

Construction has begun on the Lake Borgne Marsh Creation and Restoration Project, which has a $61 million budget. The first phase entails the construction of containment dikes. This is one part of the large-scale restoration strategy for the Pontchartrain Basin. Upon completion, the project will create and nourish approximately 2,770 acres of marsh on the southern shoreline of Lake Borgne near Shell Beach.

The project's construction budget is $61 million, according to the governor's office. Funding stemmed from the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and was allocated by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment program.

New Safety Rules in Place for Oil Field Tank Batteries

Date: January 19, 2022

The Louisiana Office of Conservation has set new rules for oil field tank batteries in an effort to save lives, after a young girl was killed by an exploding tank. The storage sites for oil wells are known to be recreational spots for young people, the New Orleans Injury Law News reports.

Fourteen-year-old Zalee Day-Smith died last February and since then, her parents have fought for stricter laws.
The Office put into place include several new requirements:

  1. Site operators must build fences at least four feet high and have a locked gate when the tank site is unattended.
  2. Tank entry points must remain securely sealed unless they're part of a pressure relief system.
  3. Operators must post warning signs that warn about the flammable contents on-site.
The new rules apply to sites within 500 feet of homes and highways, within 1,000 feet of a church or school, or within the limits of a city, town, or village. The state is also developing a list of all tank battery sites in Louisiana for the first time.

Export Oil Terminal Project Canceled

Date: December 15, 2021

A $2.5 billion oil export terminal and pipeline project in Plaquemines Parish was canceled by Tallgrass Energy Partners after it was opposed by residents of nearby Ironton and environmentalists. The opposition cited the fact that the facility would be built on top of a historic burial site of enslaved people, and asserted it would contribute to climate change and hamper local ecological efforts, according to Grist.

The proposed export terminal would have had the capacity to hold up to 20 million barrels of oil.

Infrastructure Law Funds Bridge and Road Repair, Transportation Upgrades

Date: December 15, 2021

The federal bipartisan infrastructure law will pay to repair and rebuild roads and bridges in Louisiana, with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. In Louisiana, there are 1,634 bridges and over 3,411 miles of highway in poor condition, according to the Department of Transportation. The state is expected to receive approximately $5.9 billion over five years in federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges.

In addition, $479 million over five years will be spent on improving public transportation in Louisiana. Funding will also cover modernization of freight rail, increased EV charging options, airport improvements, and other infrastructure updates.

Water System Overhaul Hits Snag with Red Tape

Date: November 17, 2021

Louisiana’s failing water system was allocated $300 million for repairs and maintenance by the state legislature this year, but the community-level application process was plagued by confusion and logistical problems ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline, the Illuminator reports.

Reportedly, 20% of the 1,287 water systems in the state aren’t up to code. Many communities began applications but didn’t complete them. Completed applications required an engineer-provided cost estimate, and some towns had trouble finding engineers, while others were confused about the application forms, State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe said. The initial application deadline was in September, but it was extended as states dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. At least 66 applications had been completed by the end of October.

Louisiana Plastics Plant Faces Delays, Scrutiny by Army Corps of Engineers

Date: November 17, 2021

A massive $9.4 billion plastics complex planned for St. James Parish faces a likely two-year delay as the project is scrutinized for possible environmental impacts. Plans for the project owned by plastics company Formosa were initially approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but the approval was later rescinded, and the Corps said it had made errors, the Advocate reports. Environmental groups filed a lawsuit saying the environmental study was insufficient; now the Army Corps will take time to research and draft an environmental impact statement.

Many applaud this close examination because the area along the Mississippi River already suffers from significant pollution. But advocates for the plant say that it will create 1,200 permanent jobs in the area and boost the local economy.

New Orleans Ordinance Designed to Prevent Negligence in Skyscraper Construction

Date: October 19, 2021

A new ordinance in New Orleans requires a third-party licensed structural engineer to review construction plans for buildings 75 feet or taller. The rule was created in response to the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel during its construction two years ago, in which three workers were killed and dozens of others were injured.

According to the ordinance, the PE who does the inspection must not have a financial interest in the building, and must provide a report to the city’s department of safety and permits. Also, the ordinance defines “structure” as including the structural frame and the load-supporting parts of floors, roofs, walls, foundations, cladding, cladding framing, stairs, equipment supports, railings, and more.

After the collapse, investigators found that city inspectors falsified information. They also discovered the building plans were changed after construction began, including modifications involving steel support beams; these changes may have played a part in the collapse, WWLTV reports.

Huge Solar Farm Planned Near Lake Charles Draws Controversy

Date: October 19, 2021

A planned massive, one-million panel solar farm on a former rice farm is drawing ire from nearby residents who are concerned about wildlife and possible health effects. Some residents have filed a lawsuit against Aurora Solar, the company behind the proposed project. The subsidiary of Oregon-based Avangrid Renewables is part of the Spanish multinational firm Iberdrola, according to The Advocate.

The company is leasing 3,400 acres for the project—more than five square miles. Solar panels will be placed on more than two-thirds of the land. The farm will generate between 300 and 400 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 30,000 homes in Louisiana, according to industry estimates. In comparison, Entergy’s recently opened Lake Charles Power Station has a 994-megawatt capacity, The Advocate reports.

Aurora plans to invest up to $325 million in the project and estimates it will create 300 to 500 temporary construction jobs. Such proposals are spurred by the low percentage of the state’s energy use that comes from renewable resources—just 3.3%, compared to the national average of 18.5%.

Researchers Apply Data from Ida to Strengthen Infrastructure

Date: September 10, 2021

A professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University is using wind, wave, and surging tide measurements in an effort to bolster levees, update urban planning and, hopefully, save lives. The professor, Qin Jim Chen, is part of a federally funded project called Nearshore Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association, worked with a team of researchers from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge and the University of Florida. The team navigated tricky terrain to physically install the gauges only hours before the storm made landfall.

“Levees are often designed using model results of hypothetical hurricanes,” says Chen. “We want to see whether the existing theories we’ve used to build these levees are accurate. Using this new data, we can check our assumptions and hypotheses to improve these designs and better protect people and property.”

Anti-Licensing Forces Miss the Point

Date: September 10, 2021

Extreme anti-licensing bills have popped up in numerous states and are posing a threat to the rigorous and established professional standards followed by PEs, architects, and others who design and construct the built environment, according to an op-ed in The Hill.

Lawmakers calling for these extreme measures don’t differentiate between barbers and manicurists, for example, and PEs and architects, say Tom Smith, executive director of ASCE, and Michael Armstrong, CEO of NCARB. “In their absolutist free-market view, reflected in the language of their model legislation, a visit to a barbershop or beauty salon should be treated the same as designing a bridge or water treatment plant.”

The legislative proposals range from measures that would eliminate licensing entirely to so-called “Universal Licensing” bills that would require states to accept licenses from any state regardless of whether the out-of-state license had the same level of qualifications behind it.

Grid Experts Grapple with ‘Resilience’ in Ida’s Wake

Date: September 10, 2021

The widespread destruction left by Hurricane Ida after the storm plowed into Louisiana and headed up the East Coast made one thing clear: There’s more work to be done in building a resilient power grid, reports E&E News. But how might solutions differ from New Orleans to New York, especially as climate change scrambles conventional wisdom about when and where extreme weather strikes? “The nature of the risk has changed,” said Saurabh Amin, an associate professor with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Levee Project Breaks Ground

Date: August 11, 2021

After a more than 50 year wait, a massive levee project along the western shores of Lake Pontchartrain has broken ground, reports Engineering News-Record. The levee will stretch 18.5 miles from the Bonnet Carre Spillway to the Mississippi River Levee near Garyville and will cost $760 million. The project will be constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers; once completed, the Pontchartrain Levee District will maintain and operate the levee system. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is the project’s nonfederal sponsor.

The project involves building a 15-ft levee in virgin swampland with poor soil conditions. “You’ve got to determine what is the best way to build an earthen levee in a swamp—a freshwater swamp at that,” said the executive director for the Pontchartrain Levee District. “So there were lots of investigations, lots of surveys that went into this.”

Solar Farm May Become State’s Largest

Date: August 11, 2021

Construction of a solar farm that would be the largest in the state and would sell power to the likes of eBay and McDonald’s is slated to begin construction in October and connect to the grid in June 2023, according to the Advocate. The project developer, Lightsource Renewable Energy Development LLC of San Francisco, says the facility in Pointe Coupee Parish will generate 345 megawatts. Lightsource is a subsidiary of BP.

Encouraged by a tax exemption, more than a dozen other solar projects are proposed in the state. The exemption would provide the projects up to 10 years of property tax breaks for land turned from agricultural use to industrial for a large-scale solar project.

LSU Prof Leads Groundwater Modeling Study

Date: July 21, 2021

An LSU professor of civil and environmental engineering will be leading the development of a regional-scale groundwater model across multiple states followed by a study of groundwater availability impacted by anthropogenic pumping, climate change, and droughts, according to the Times Picayune. LSU will be working on the project with Southern University, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Alabama; the goal is better water resource management for the Gulf region.

In the project’s second phase, the team will integrate the model with other water management strategies, such as alternative water sources from rivers, wastewater, and storm water, including social and economic analyses. The aim is to reduce groundwater pumping by using more surface water from the Mississippi River or reclaimed water.

In other education news: UL-Lafayette adds the state’s first bioengineering concentration for engineering majors, reports WGNO.

Construction Plans for Methanol Plant Restarted

Date: July 21, 2021

A Canadian company has restarted plans to build a methanol plan in Geismar in Ascension Parish, reports the Advocate. Originally, the plant was expected to cost $1.4 billion and produce 1.8 million tons of methanol, but due to global economic uncertainty, those plans were scaled back. After pausing the project for more than a year, Methanex Corp. plans to cut the project’s size by $200 million to $600 million. The company expects to begin manufacturing methanol from the plant—its third in Geismar—by the end of 2023 or early 2024.

Louisiana LNG Facilities Grow…But Questions of Risk are Raised

Date: June 10, 2021

Venture Global LNG is proposing four liquefied natural gas export terminals in south Louisiana and plans to capture greenhouse gases from at least two of them and inject the gasses into saline aquifers for permanent storage, reports the Advocate. The company may extend its carbon-capture plans to all four of the proposed terminals. One is under construction in coastal Cameron Parish, where another project is proposed, and two are proposed south of New Orleans.

While federal regulators approved the construction of export terminals along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as fracking made the US a major natural gas producer, critics say industry safety calculations significantly understate the potential force of a specific type of accidental explosion, according to the Washington Post. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration told the Post it intends to draw up rules next year that would deal with the risk in question.

“Eventually, regulators and industry engineers came around to the understanding that these terminals do pose inherent new dangers, almost as an afterthought,” the article says. “But even to this day, federal regulators accept at face value the industry’s calculations regarding what engineers call a vapor cloud explosion.”

The Balancing Act of Louisiana’s Climate Goals

Date: June 10, 2021

Louisiana became the first Deep South state to sign on to an interstate climate compact to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, writes Popular Science, but part of that agreement would involve cutting net emissions by a quarter in under five years. That means Louisiana will need to cut about 50 million metric tons of emissions—more than its entire transportation sector.

Louisiana is not like other states. While the industrial sector accounts for about 13% of emissions nationally, Louisiana industry accounts for two-thirds of its emissions. Adding to the challenge, the state hasn’t done a comprehensive inventory of its carbon emissions since 2010.

At the end of the day, the article says, “the state seems to be pursuing both green industry and oil.” However, “There are good reasons to think that Louisiana could become a hub for green jobs. The heavy engineering jobs of the oil and gas sector have similar skill sets to renewable energy and coastal restoration.”

Contract Awarded for LNG Terminal, Industry Faces Challenges

Date: May 17, 2021

A joint venture of KBR and Venture Global LNG has been awarded a contract to build a proposed $8.5 billion liquefied natural gas export terminal south of New Orleans, reports The Plaquemines LNG project will cover a 630-acre site about 20 miles south of New Orleans. The project is expected to support up to 2,200 construction jobs and hire 250 workers at the terminal once completed.

Plaquemines LNG is the second of four liquefaction projects proposed by Venture Global, all in Louisiana, according to S&P Global. The first, Calcasieu Pass, is under construction and may begin operations as early as this fall. When completed, Calcasieu Pass will be the seventh major liquefaction facility in the US.

Although LNG has rebounded from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, reports the Houston Chronicle, the industry, sparked by the fracking boom, is new for the Gulf Coast. “It remains to be seen if the LNG industry can balance long-term supply with demand. Analysts worry that if most of the planned projects — not only on the Gulf Coast but around the world — come online over the next four years, supply could outstrip demand.”

Remembering the I-10 Bridge

Date: May 17, 2021

The 70th anniversary of the Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge arrives on September 28, but its opening came sooner than planned, according to the American Press in Lake Charles. Turns out that state highway engineers determined that the bridge it was replacing was “in such condition that a possible failure may occur at any time” and the heavy traffic should be taken off it as soon as possible.

The article also tells the story behind the bridge’s name. During construction, the chief engineer of the highway department proposed a name at a Louisiana Engineering Society meeting. He suggested the Lafitte Bridge, after pirate and privateer Jean Lafitte. The chief engineer added that the handrailing of the bridge had been marked with the sign of the pirates — crossed pistols. The proposal didn’t catch on, however, and the bridge was officially named the Louisiana Memorial World War II Bridge in June 1951.

A proposal has been made to replace the 70-year-old bridge. Read the recommendations for a new six-lane bridge from the I-10 Bridge Task Force.

19th Century Orphanage Transformed into Boutique Hotel

Date: April 21, 2021

The transformation of a nearly 150-year-old former orphanage into a 74-room boutique hotel in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans was recently highlighted in ENR. The project involved The project involved converting five historically designated buildings into the $22.5-million Hotel St. Vincent, a 71,500-sq-ft luxury hotel with a newly constructed 6,000-sq-ft event space and private verandas for each room. A representative of the general contractor, Palmisano, said: “Historic, boutique hospitality projects are one of the most complex project types in the commercial design and construction industry,” Moldaner says. “The physical constraints and deteriorating conditions of a historic structure, combined with the goal of creating a one-off guest experience, creates an extraordinary level of collaboration across a large and diverse project team.”

Fossil Fuel Execs Try Out Solar

Date: April 21, 2021

A group of fossil fuel industry service executives has started a New Orleans renewable energy developer, reports Houma Today, as a way to hedge their bets in oil and gas. NuQuest Energy cofounder Kirk Barrell said that he sees a momentum shift and opportunity in renewable energy. Entergy, for example, plans to buy several hundred megawatts of renewable power from developers like NuQuest in the coming years. According to the article, NuQuest is close to sealing a deal for its first self-funded solar project. It would produced around 100 megawatts of electricity.

Corps Report Sets Stage for Historic Project

Date: March 18, 2021

The rebuild of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands took a step forward on March 5 with the release of an environmental impact report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The upshot: The benefits of the proposed $1.4 billion project are well worth the risk, reports Engineering News-Record.

The project would be one of the largest environmental infrastructure projects in the nation’s history. “As a concept, it’s a game changer,” says Kristi Trail, professional engineer and executive director of the Pontchartrain Conservancy, a nonprofit that advocates for environmental sustainability through scientific research. “We see it as something that must move forward in order to change how things are going with our current land loss.”

Industry Overuse Puts Capital City Drinking Water At Risk

Date: March 18, 2021

Deep beneath Baton Rouge, the Southern Hills Aquifer System provides water to 650,000 people in six parishes. It also supplies hundreds of oil and gas plants, chemical manufacturers, and commercial support contractors. “But the aquifer is being depleted faster than it is being replenished, just as it is in at least four of Louisiana’s 11 major aquifers,” according to New Orleans Public Radio. Industries withdraw an average of more than 56 gallons of groundwater per person — more than anywhere else in the country. A state audit manager said, “Essentially, the capital area has not effectively regulated groundwater usage from this aquifer. The Southern Hills aquifer needs to be regulated, so it can continue to provide drinking water for the citizens for years to come.”

Advocacy for New Bridge Continues

Date: March 18, 2021

A new Mississippi River bridge has been called a unicorn, but the Advocate reports that the latest talks may lead to a different outcome. A new bridge could provide relief from the gridlock on the Interstate-10 bridge, which is crossed by about 150,000 cars and track daily. Big questions remain, however, about funding and the bridge location. An earlier attempt to build a bridge failed in 2011 after vocal opposition from parishes that stood to be affected.

Petroleum Engineering Enrollment Drops

Date: February 10, 2021

Enrollment numbers for petroleum engineering students at LSU and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have been declining for five years, reports the Acadiana Advocate, due to the deterrent of persistently low oil and gas market prices. LSU and UL Lafayette offer the only petroleum engineering programs in the state. Here’s a look at the numbers:

  LSU    UL Lafayette
Fall 2015 801
Fall 2016 649 551
Fall 2017 478 391
Fall 2018 327 235
Fall 2019 197 163
Fall 2020 129

Among the areas of change raising questions about the discipline are the auto industry’s adoption of new energy sources and the possible deemphasis of fossil fuel by the Biden administration.

Audit: Louisiana needs to improve emissions enforcement

Date: February 10, 2021

State auditors are calling on the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to do a better job of identifying industrial polluters that don’t properly report air emission violations and enforcing those violations more aggressively, reports the Associated Press. The new state audit “found the time it took for the state agency to issue enforcement actions after a known violation more than doubled between financial year 2015 and 2019, from nearly 10 months to nearly 20 months.” Further, the auditors wrote that the department “doesn’t adequately track the penalties it has assessed, whether the penalties were paid or which facilities fail to submit self-monitoring reports on emissions.”

Louisiana Job Opportunity

Date: February 10, 2021

Civil Engineer
Spackman Mossop Michaels

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Army Taps LSU Coastal, Engineering Expertise to Improve Resilience

Date: January 27, 2021

LSU engineering and science experts will receive $9.3 million over four years from the US Army to help make military operations better prepared for and more resilient to climate-induced hazards. The university will focus on ecological, coastal and water resource computational modeling and engineering to improve the functionality and resilience of military installations and operations under present and future conditions. The research is part of a program among the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Environmental Laboratory, LSU, and the University of Delaware. The funding is the largest grant to fund a single-team coastal science and engineering project at LSU.

Federal Funds Slated for Terrebonne Levee System

Date: January 27, 2021

For decades, local advocates have sought federal funds for the levee system that protects Terrebonne and part of Lafourche from Gulf storms. Now that wait is over, reports Houma Today. This year, the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane-protection system is scheduled to receive about $12.5 million from the Army Corps of Engineers. The money will go toward raising much of the levee system to around 20 feet and building two massive floodgates in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, one in Houma and another in Larose.

Corps Calls for Further Study of Dam

Date: December 16, 2020

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to take 3½ additional years and spend an extra $6 million to study the proposed Darlington Dry Dam and better assess the risk of catastrophic failure and its impact on minority communities and archaeological sites,” according to the Advocate. The proposed $1.3 billion dam would reduce flooding of the Amite River Basin, but the project comes with significant life and safety issues as well as environmental justice and archaeological concerns.

Members Contribute to Licensing Board

Date: December 16, 2020

NSPE member Linda Bergeron, P.E., of Des Allemands, has been named as a new board member of LAPELS. She is a senior process engineer at Occidental Chemical Corporation, and she is a Chemical PE Exam development volunteer with NCEES.

NSPE member Alan Krouse, P.E., has left the LAPELS board after completing his six-year term.

LNG Facility in Plaquemines Moves Forward

Date: December 16, 2020

KBR Inc. has won the engineering, procurement and construction contract as lead contractor for Phase 1 of the Plaquemines LNG export project under development by Venture Global LNG in Plaquemines Parish, according to the 10/12 Industry Report. The announcement comes as a surprise. Over the summer, KBR said it would leave the energy business to focus on its technology and government solutions segments. In June, Reuters reported, “If Venture Global goes forward with Plaquemines this year, it could be the only U.S. LNG project to enter construction in 2020 after most other developers delayed their projects as coronavirus lockdowns cut global demand for energy and caused gas prices in Europe and Asia to drop to record lows.”

Plastics and the Public Health, Safety, Welfare

Date: November 18, 2020

The Army Corps of Engineers said it intends to suspend a permit for the construction of a $9.4 billion plastics complex along the lower Mississippi River in St. James Parish, reports Pro Publica. “Last year, an analysis by ProPublica and The Times-Picayune and The Advocate, conducted with an expert in air modeling, estimated that in the community across the river from the plant, hundreds of residents will face double the toxic levels of cancer-causing chemicals than they currently do,” the article says. “One mile east in the predominantly Black community of St. James, those levels could more than triple.”

In a motion filed in federal court, the Corps it needed to reevaluate part of its analysis under the Clean Water Act. The act, according to the article, requires an analysis of all environmental impacts, including air pollution.

Offshore Wind Takes a Step Forward

Date: November 18, 2020

Governor Edwards recently presented his strategies for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, including offshore wind energy, reports Edwards has asked the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for help setting up a task force that will coordinate commercial offshore wind leasing proposals for the federal waters off Louisiana’s coast. Several Louisiana companies have worked on the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S., built off Rhode Island.

Louisiana Lawmakers Propose National Disaster Safety Board

Date: October 28, 2020

Two Louisiana legislators have proposed a measure that would create an independent board that would recommend ways local governments could strengthen their resilience to severe weather events, according to Transportation Topics. Sen. Bill Cassidy and Rep. Garret Graves “The board would be modeled after the independent National Transportation Safety Board, which produces reports after investigating plane crashes, and major commercial highway and railroad accidents,” the article states. On October 9, Cassidy said, “Americans across the country from the Gulf Coast to California are dealing with the results of natural disasters. Another hurricane is zeroing in on Louisiana right now. By establishing a natural disaster safety board, lessons learned from past disasters save lives and perhaps even prevent future disasters.”

Interested in taking action on legislative issues of interest to professional engineers? Visit NSPE’s Advocacy Center.

Solar Grows in Baton Rouge Area

October 28, 2020

A new solar facility with nearly 200,000 panels on a former sugarcane field is now plugged into the capital area’s electrical grid, reports the Advocate. The nearly 600-acre facility near Port Allen is part of Entergy’s plan to deliver more renewable energy to customers. The solar panels, according to the article, “face the eastern sky in the morning and track the sun’s path as they rotate throughout the day, which allows them to capture 30% more energy than stationary panels.”

In other solar news, the West Side Journal reports that a San Francisco-based firm has plans to build a solar energy manufacturing facility in West Baton Rouge Parish. The firm has filed an advanced notice with Louisiana Economic Development to begin building in 2022 and complete the project in 2023.

We Want to Hear from You!

Date: October 28, 2020

Do you know of engineering news in Louisiana that would be great for this newsletter? Maybe it’s a project you or your firm is working on, or perhaps you read some interesting engineering news in your local newspaper. Or maybe you know of a fellow PE or student who deserves a little recognition. If so, we want to hear from you. Email your ideas to

Will Louisiana Act to Remove the PE Exemption?

The National Transportation Safety Board has identified Louisiana and 30 other states that currently do not require a licensed professional engineer on natural gas pipeline projects. The NTSB sent a letter to the governors of each of the states in the fall, urging them to end exemptions for gas pipeline operators and asking for an update within 90 days.

The NTSB issued an investigation report on the September 2018 Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions with two critical recommendations: first that all the states with license exemptions for public utilities eliminate the exemption, and second that a professional engineer be required to review and approve gas pipeline construction and maintenance documents.

When the NTSB began its investigation, staff reached out to NSPE seeking information about licensing exemptions. Through a series of conversations and emails, NSPE shared report data, information on the licensing process and requirements, and its position statement on licensing exemptions. As a result of conversations with NSPE and other organizations, the NTSB adopted a policy of addressing and eliminating engineering license exemptions within the gas pipeline industry.

NSPE’s national staff continues to be in conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board and state societies on this issue.

Baton Rouge Red-Light Camera Contract Raises Licensure Concerns

A case of potential unlicensed engineering practice and red-light camera installation strikes again—this time in Louisiana. Efforts to renew a Baton Rouge red-light camera operations contract has come with some controversy over a firm unlicensed to practice engineering in the state.

Vera Mobility, formerly known as American Traffic Solutions, operates 24 red-light cameras in 16 intersections in Baton Rouge. The city’s previous professional services contract with the firm specified that installation drawings be stamped by a civil engineer licensed in Louisiana according to an article published by The Advocate on November 19.

Louisiana state statute requires firms that practice engineering to be licensed in order to safeguard life, health and property, and to promote the public welfare. Vera Mobility isn’t licensed with the Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council voted to extend the firm’s contract until 2023 despite a pending lawsuit that seeks to take the red-light cameras out of operation, according to The Advocate.

The case is similar to one in which the North Carolina engineering licensing board concluded, after an investigation in 2018, that American Traffic Solutions Inc., violated the law when it installed red-light cameras and produced survey data without a license to practice in the state.

In August 2019, the Colorado State Board of Licensure for Architects, Professional Engineers, and Professional Land Surveyors issued a cease and desist order to Redlex Traffic Systems for practicing engineering without a license in the state. Redlex Traffic Systems provided professional services to the city and county of Denver in July 2008 in violation of state engineering law.

NTSB Report and NSPE's Action on this Issue

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters to the governors of 31 states named in its final report on the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, including Louisiana. The letter requests an end to the engineering license exemption for gas pipeline operators in these states, and asks for governors to provide an update to the NTSB with in 90 days.

When the NTSB began its investigation of the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, investigative staff reached out to NSPE seeking information about licensing exemptions. Through a series of conversations and emails, NSPE shared report data, information on the licensing process and requirements, and its Position Statement on licensing exemptions. Consequently, NSPE was successful in getting the NTSB to adopt a policy of addressing and eliminating engineering license exemptions within the gas pipeline industry.

NSPE’s national staff continues to be in conversation with NTSB staff, and will continue to share updates as they happen. We are happy to support state efforts at eliminating this exemption.

Read the full report from NTSB.

NTSB Report and Recommendations


NTSB has released an abstract of its forthcoming final report on the fatal Merrimack Valley pipeline explosion from September of last year. Final revisions are being made to the report, but in the report’s synopsis/executive summary, NTSB states that “requiring a licensed professional engineer to stamp plans would illustrate that the plans had been approved by an accredited professional with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a comprehensive review.” Acknowledging the importance of the role of the PE in preventing an event like this from occurring, NTSB recommends the elimination of the licensing exemption on natural gas pipeline projects in the 31 states that have the exemption in place, including the state of Louisiana.

Read the synopsis of the report.