Taxpayers will fund GOMESA, while the industry that caused 50% of our coastal damage will pay only enough to rent our next governor.
by Len Bahr, Ph.D.
On August 21 NOLA.com|TheTimes-Picayune published a cogent set of arguments by local writer and coastal advocate John M. Barry that once again made the case for the oil and gas industry to contribute its fair share to fix its coastal footprint.
On August 26 NOLA.com|TheTimes-Picayune published a response to Barry in the form of a letter to the editor from oil industry spokesman Marc Ehrhardt. Once again the energy industry falsely claims to have contributed big bucks to the coastal cause, money for which it deserves no credit whatsoever.
On August 26 NOLA.com|TheTimes-Picayune published an editorial pleading with President Obama, who was coming to NOLA for the Katrinaversary, to not take away GOMESA funds needed to repair America’s Delta. What isn’t mentioned is that GOMESA dollars, which won’t begin flowing until 2017: (1) represent only a fraction of what is needed; and (2) are public funds to help pay for damages caused by the private sector. Why does the Louisiana media not recognize this inequity?
On August 26 The Advocate published a scathing report by Richard Thompson that suggests a net loss of $1.1 Billion in what amounts to a tax subsidy from the state to the oil and gas companies.
On August 31 The Advocate published an editorial that finally acknowledged the fact that the oil and gas industry has been getting a free ride in the Bayou State.
On September 16 The Advocate published an editorial praising Bill Cassidy for his defense of GOMESA revenue sharing. By praising Bill Cassidy for his knee jerk defense of offshore revenue sharing, The Advocate perpetuates the specious and fruitless argument that American taxpayers should foot the entire bill to save Louisiana’s coast.
Forget Obama’s rhetorical threat, the greenest president since Richard Nixon (how ironic) is not about to risk his environmental legacy by diverting a dedicated coastal revenue stream away from Louisiana. On the other hand, modest GOMESA funding beginning in 2017 will amount to a mere down payment on the total tab.
Cassidy and The Advocate knowingly misleads the public by conflating the hundreds of millions of GOMESA bucks in play with the hundred plus billion dollar tab for making a significant coastal difference. This is a distraction that plays right into the hands of the energy industry, which is determined not to be held liable for causing the unmitigated loss of about 1,000 square mi. of landscape since the 1930s.
The energy industry has of course been heavily involved in the race to choose Bobby Jindal’s replacement, which has huge coastal implications.
On September 26 The Advocate published an article by Mark Ballard documenting support by oil and gas interests for two of the leading candidates to replace Bobby Jindal: Sen. David Vitter and PSC Commissioner Scott Angelle, both of whom are virtually owned by the industry that has done copious unmitigated coastal damage over the years.
I salute Ballard for shedding a little sunlight on the energy money that’s being invested in the gubernatorial campaigns of Vitter and Angelle. In a just world the voting public would hold support by oil and gas against the recipients of its dirty dollars. Oh that’s right; this is Louisiana.