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Trump appoints ‘petroleophile’ Scott Angelle to offshore drilling role while axing GOMESA funding. Poetic justice?

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New Trump employee Scott Angelle and Louisiana's oil-ravaged coast over which he will have a policy role. Portrait photo from The Advocate (2017); landscape photo from the NY Times (2014).

New Trump employee Scott Angelle and Louisiana’s oil-ravaged coast, over which he will have a policy role. Portrait photo from The Advocate (2017); landscape photo from the NY Times (2014).

by Len Bahr, Ph.D.

On May 23 TheAdvocate.com published an op/ed by Stephanie Grace on the appointment by Donald Trump of Scott Angelle, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner and former secretary of DNR, to develop federal policy re offshore oil and gas development. Angelle will head up the agency that oversees issues related to safety and risk management of offshore drilling. This function was formerly handled by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) that in 2010 was subdivided into three agencies, as reported in the NY Times. Here’s a quote from Grace’s piece:

…the Trump administration appointed him as new director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, part of the Department of the Interior and the office created after the 2010 BP oil spill to oversee offshore drilling safety. The appointment does not require Senate approval.

On the same day Mark Schleifstein reported in Nola.com | TheTimes-Picayune that Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate the GOMESA program on which much of the hope for coastal restoration funding is based. Also on May 23 the same news medium published an op/ed by Jarvis DeBerry on the GOMESA cut.

On May 24 the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) issued a statement from which the following quotes are excerpted:

Today, Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement asking Louisiana’s congressional delegation and neighboring Gulf Producing States to oppose President Trumps’ budget proposal, which calls for the elimination of GOMESA state payments. “I am asking the Louisiana congressional delegation and neighboring Gulf Producing States to oppose this plan and adopt a responsible budget that doesn’t unfairly turn a blind eye to our region,” stated Edwards.

…Ignoring the significance of Louisiana’s coast, its assets and its impact to this country is short sighted, and turns its back on the people of the Gulf Coast and consequently, our nation’s citizens who depend on energy resources found off the coast of our state.”

…“For decades, the Louisiana congressional delegation – Republicans and Democrats – have fought to secure dedicated funding to offset the effects of oil and gas leasing and production along our coast. Permanent sharing of federal revenues is critical to ensure Louisiana’s coast remains fully operational, protects vital national infrastructure and provides the necessary barriers to protect our working coast and citizens,” stated Edwards.

GOMESA, The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, was established as a permanent mechanism for sharing Federal revenues from oil and natural gas leasing and production on the Gulf of Mexico Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) with the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas (Gulf Producing States, or GPS), and is the funding stream upon which the state’s coastal program was established.

…Johnny Bradberry, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities also voiced concern, stating “President Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate GOMESA revenues would essentially end the coastal program as we know it. 

…“If allowed to continue, Louisiana’s deteriorating coast will be a liability borne by the entire United States,” Bradberry commented.

In addition to axing the GOMESA revenue sharing program, on May 25 TheAdvocate.com published an article by Falmon Roberts III on the Trump budget proposal that includes huge cuts to environmental programs.

During the BP disaster in 2010 virtually all of Louisiana’s Republicans and even some equally petroleophilic Democrats went berserk when former President Obama proposed a cautionary temporary moratorium of offshore drilling for oil and gas – until the cause of the blowout had been identified and the errant well had been shut down. As it turned out, of course, the largest oil pollution incident in American history has generated the largest projected chunk of coastal change on the horizon available to help offset the collapse of our coastal ecosystem, which is largely the result of decades of unrestricted onshore and offshore energy production.

On a related note, on May 27 Nola.com | TheTimes-Picayune published an article by Mark Schleifstein on the lukewarm reaction to Gov. Edwards’ request for federal support for five coastal projects to be funded under the GOMESA program.

On May 28 Nola.com | TheTimes-Picayune published an editorial denouncing the GOMESA cut, with the following quotes from state officials:

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, said: “Taking funding away from Louisiana’s coastline is a non-starter.”

Rep. Garret Graves, a Baton Rouge Republican who headed Louisiana’s coastal restoration program under Gov. Bobby Jindal, said killing the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act would be “an awful policy.”

And House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Jefferson, pledged to work to ensure the budget the House passes will include revenue sharing to restore the coast. That should be the priority for Louisiana’s entire delegation.

How ironic it is to see such sentiments expressed by these otherwise passionate supporters of the Trump administration, all of whom opposed the so-called SLFPA-E lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies to require reparations for decades of coastal damage caused by exploration and production of petroleum from our now degraded coast. The history of this lawsuit is beautifully described in a 2014 essay in the NY Times Magazine by Nathaniel Rich. The photo above is taken from his essay.

At any rate the hypocrisy embodied in the gnashing of Louisiana officials’ teeth re Trump’s proposed GOMESA cut sounds like poetic justice to these ears.

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  1. Kelly-
    Your comment implies that Trump’s outrageous environmental RHETORIC is somehow on a par with Obama’s distinguished science-based RECORD on a whole spectrum of green issues. In 2010 the irrational statewide uproar over Barry’s proposed temporary moratorium on drilling in the gulf revealed the deep hostility of Louisiana officials to a POTUS truly concerned about the risks of offshore oil drilling, in Louisiana, the East Coast and the Arctic. He had every reason to be cynical about how GOMESA revenues could be squandered here. Trump, on the other hand, wants to share federal oil revenue with the Pentagon for weapons that are clearly obsolete for modern warfare.
    Get a grip, man.
    Len

    • Kelly Haggar says:

      Len,

      Implied? You had a cow over a proposed funding cut . . . which is indistinguishable from an earlier proposed funding cut. All I did was point out something which several of the earlier news stories also noted; that Obama had proposed the same cut. Frankly your post made me wonder if you had missed those lines in the stories.

      Now, if you can find a quote from Obama that he wanted to end GOMESA because he doubted La could be trusted to spend the money based on sound science, or words to that effect, now THAT would be a legit news item. Especially if you can demonstrate that the 2012 MP was not based on science while the 2017 MP is. THAT would also be legit news.

      kmh

      • Kelly-
        You’re ignoring the fact that Obama recommended redistributing the GOMESA funding more broadly among other coastal needs, whereas Trump wants to squander it on non-coastal programs.
        I can’t prove that Barry was too cynical about our politics to trust us to do the right thing with the funding but I’d bet that that idea crossed his mind. Bless Mary Landrieu’s heart but GOMESA is funded by blameless taxpayers in Indiana, etc., as opposed to reparations from your buddies in the navigation and energy industries that perpetrated 67% of the damage.
        Len

        • Kelly Haggar says:

          Len, Darlin’, switch to decaf. Not only can you read Barry’s mind, and my mind, and Mary’s mind, but you’re also an expert on which military hardware is obsolete. And you know to within a single % how much coastal change came from “my buddies.”

          Really you should be glad no one else is watching this thread.

          No hard feelings. I just don’t see the point of checking in again on this thread.

  2. Kelly Haggar says:

    Trump hasn’t suggested any GOMESA cuts which Obama did not. None of his passed; I doubt Trump’s will.

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