• Ed Flattau

Louisiana Backlash

The good people of Louisiana have placed their sustenance and income on servicing the oil industry at the price of health-threatening air pollution and loss of protective coastal wetlands.

Yet, this citizenry self-destructively continues to place their fate in the hands of politicians supportive of the loss of wetlands and health.

A poster child for this shortsighted state-wide energy policy is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, an aspiring candidate for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination. Louisiana’s coast wetlands – natural barriers to inland erosion – have been degraded by oil industry activity for decades – and have continued to shrink largely unabated during his time in office. In their weakened condition, the wetlands sink into the sea at an especially accelerated pace when struck by hurricanes. The massive 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico further damaged the ecology of the surrounding coastal states, and the resulting toxicity is likely to endure for a long time to come.

Jindal, a recipient of generous oil-company campaign contributions, seems oblivious to the industry-related environmental threats contributing to his state’s plight. Instead, he prefers to disseminate his partisan red meat by accusing Democrats “of holding Americans hostage to extremist and unscientific views” through stricter regulation of oil spills and greenhouse-bas emissions. Dutifully loyal to his corporate benefactors, Jindal rejects the gradual phase-out of fossil fuels that scientists urge as a means of mitigating global warming and the extreme weather events it fosters. Instead, he excoriates the Obama Administration for being “science deniers” who do not exploit abundant (but heavily polluting) fossil fuels to their fullest.

When Jindal, a former Rhodes Scholar, and college biology major, is asked about global warming, he begs off addressing the issue. Fearful of alienating the many deniers among his conservative followers, Jindal echoes Marco Rubio and declares that resolving any such threat should be left to “scientists.” In doing so, he spinelessly shirks the responsibility for decision making that comes with elected office. At some point, one hopes, the good people of Louisiana will make the connection between their political choices and environmental degradation. They need to rebel at the ballot box while some of their coastal wetlands and health still remain intact and major restoration can be achieved. [Excerpt drawn from: From Green to Mean, 2015]

... the good people of Louisiana will make the connection between their political choices and environmental degradation..”

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