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Louisiana’s Silent Ecolambs react like crickets to the news of unlimited expansion of offshore drilling

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by Len Bahr, Ph.D.
On January 4 the hill.com published an article by Timothy Cama on a huge expansion in ocean bottom area that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke unilaterally decided to open up to leasing for offshore oil and gas drilling. Also on January
Three of the five silent ecolambs comprising the Save the Mississippi River Delta Coalition.

Three of the five silent ecolambs comprising the Save the Mississippi River Delta Coalition.

4 Nola.com | TheTimes-Picayune published an article by Tristan Baurick about this decision, which essentially opened the entire Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling.

Her article mentions that 64 environmental groups have expressed opposition but the list tellingly excludes the five non governmental organizations that have become most prominent in discussions about restoring America’s Delta. These are the members of the so-called Coalition to Restore the Mississippi River delta, or as I call them the Silent Ecolambs, which includes the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), The National Wildlife Federation, The National Audubon Society, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL).
Also on January 4, an AP story by Mathew Daly describes the warm welcome of the drilling expansion by members of Louisiana’s GOP delegation, including District 6 Congressman Garret Graves. Here are some telling quotes:

 “The United States has one of the safest, most environmentally-sensitive conventional energy production programs in the world — and nobody does it better than Louisiana,” Graves added. “Eliminating barriers to domestic energy production as envisioned in this plan is a step in the right direction.”

U.S. Reps. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, and Mike Johnson, R-Caddo, issued similar statements praising the move.

“We are working together with President Trump and his administration to deliver an energy policy that places American families and American industry first,” Higgins said.

Zinke later announced the exemption of the Atlantic and Gulf waters off of Florida from the lease expansion, after meeting with Florida’s Governor Rick Scott, who intends to run for the U.S. Senate. This exemption, and its probable relationship to the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago resort, was noted in a January 11 article by Timothy Cama in the hill.com.

A lonely media expression of concern about the drilling expansion appeared on January 5, when Nola.com | TheTimes-Picayune published an authoritative and pointed op/ed by Don Boesch on the risks of expanding offshore drilling for oil and gas, and the reversal of safety regulations implemented after the BP blowout in 2010. On January 9 TheAdvocate.com came out with an editorial praising the Trump administration for opening up of leasing most of America’s offshore waters for drilling, despite a global oil glut that has kept the value of oil to ~$60/bbl.

Throughout this sordid episode I have seen not a single word about the implications of increased domestic oil and gas production on climate change and the consideration of the rapidly emerging concept of leaving carbon in the ground as stranded assets.

In a related issue, on January 11 Nola.com | TheTmes-Picayune published an article by Mark Schleifstein on a hearing in DC on speeding up the federal permitting process to allow construction of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Project. The article cited support by none other than Silent Ecolamb spokesman Steve Cochran. One would think that he should be careful about endorsing the weakening of environmental regulations, which in fact have not slowed down that project.

Mr. Cochran has, of course been silent abut the drilling expansion.

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  1. Edward Bodker says:

    Spot on! With half of all the coral reefs in the oceans already dead as a result of human activities and 90% of all the large marine fish dead, it appears that we have grown ourselves into oblivion. Grow, grow, grow, the shovel that digs our own grave…

  2. Right on point, Len! They also support environmentally destructive projects such as Morganza to the Gulf.

  3. Louisiana may never wake up to the fact that some thought is required in dealing with complex issues. It’s easy to blindly follow the perceived interests of the oil and gas industry, indulge in climate denial and anti-regulatory anger – but don’t expect to retain national support for restoring our coast. Once that support is lost, the state can blame the Corps, the dolphins, Obama, the media, and any other whipping boy/girl – but the fault will lie with us.

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