Two different pieces, printed in The Advocate five days apart, demonstrate the wisdom and worry regarding our environment in Louisiana.
First, the wisdom: Stephanie Grace points her political acumen on climate change and the very real threat posed to our state by rising sea levels. Those of us concerned about Louisiana’s vulnerability are condemned by Gov. Bobby Jindal. He describes us with an ideological slant. As Grace aptly points out, the governor and other politicians ignore both science and common sense. Louisiana can’t live with more pollution and an ever-eroding coast.
Now comes the worry: The paper’s editorial board pointed out that President Barack Obama has redirected offshore drilling revenue from the Gulf states to the entire U.S. The editorial board is right that states bearing the brunt of oil production should benefit from the revenue. Goodness knows, we need it. Oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico report thousands of spills to the federal National Response Center every year. And the Coastal Master Plan, as the board notes, is largely unfunded.
Yet while the editorial board decries the loss of this funding, it has failed to editorialize on the obvious source of revenue for the Master Plan: the oil industry.
The oil industry’s own studies acknowledge its responsibility for a significant percentage of the loss of our coastal protection. Yet the industry refuses to pay the damages, instead urging us not to blame them.
Oil industry lobbyists work feverishly to make sure the rebuilding of our coast is paid for by the taxpayers. And The Advocate editorial board sits idly by, not once calling the oil industry to task.
As long as Louisiana continues to let the oil industry off the hook, we will and should get the cold shoulder from Obama and the rest of the country when we cry about coastal funding. This issue is related to the threat highlighted in Grace’s column. Her work is a good first step in acknowledging the science of climate change that makes us all the more vulnerable.
The editorial board lauded Obama for “settling long-standing disputes.” The Advocate could lead in a similar way by honestly confronting the deep and oily pockets in our state. An editorial recommending that the oil industry fund the $50 billion Coastal Master Plan would be a good start. A strong second step would be an editorial acknowledging the threat of sea level rise and climate change.
founding director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade