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Taxpayers will fund GOMESA, while the industry that caused 50% of our coastal damage will pay only enough to rent our next governor.

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Campaign fueling

Campaign fueling

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.

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  1. Simon Says says:

    Take a Trip to East Bank in Plaquemines, you will find canals that were built over 100 years ago, these canals have the original depth & width…. How can that be??? No Big Oil using the Canals, only sports fisherman.. Big Oil is totally responsible for Louisiana wetland destruction. Wisdom and knowledge is your best friend..

  2. Coastal wather says:

    Len: thanks again for exposing where others fear or refuse to tread!

  3. Anonymous repeats a misleading energy meme in his/her message – the lawsuit, J. Barry, etc. have never claimed that there are not multiple causes for the degradation of the coast. They are only saying that oil and gas companies should pay for the damage to the marsh that they are legally obligated to cover. They make the case for this by pointing out that this damage is significant, and is so at the scale of coastal deterioration that we’re seeing. The lawsuit’s opponents are making explicit their attempt to keep the oil and gas industry from ever being held to their contractual obligations. That’s called rule of law, and it’s clear that we don’t have it in Louisiana. It’s likely one reason why we’ve lost at least some support from a President who tried to work with La as a partner in coastal restoration, and continue to lose support in DC for substantial funds coming here. Cassidy and his colleagues, along with the Advocate, are perpetuating a myth to cover up this state of affairs, so that the public in Louisiana will blame Obama, etc. rather than understanding why this state never seems to get its act together to address its major problem.

  4. Let’s take a stab at identifying every trainasse and canal ever dug in our coast and everyone whoever used them, and everyone whoever benefitted from them up to and including the recreational fishermen who tore through them today. And let’s also identify all the clam/oyster shell dredgers and users, and those that have overfished any of our species, (or enjoyed eating such species). Let’s also identify all the roads built in our coast that altered hydrology and assess damages to their users. Then of course we need to assess damages to the navigation industry and everyone who benefitted from Mississippi River levees and dredging. Finally, let’s not forget all the hurricane levees that have caused wetland damage. We should make each and every beneficiary and their descendants pay for their pro-rated damages to the coast. That way we are truly entitled to no sense of shame when we go the O&G industry and tell them to pay their fair share!

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