LaRoots - a Louisiana Grassroots Political Network

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Forest Wright & Energy Notes October 24, 2012

Dear LaRoots reader,

CANDIDATE SPOTLIGHT – FOREST WRIGHT - PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION – District 2

Forest has experience with the Public Service Commission to champion lower energy costs, putting people first with proven strategies to lower their bills. Please go to his website to hear all of the candidates during a recent Press Club interview, and watch as his republican opponents reveal their divided loyalties. http://forestwright.com/

MORE ON THE ISSUES -

Energy

Few issues suffer from as much misinformation and confusion as that of energy. Louisiana’s GOP delegation has played a major role in spreading myths about energy, blaming President Obama when gasoline costs rise and touting the claim that America can be “energy independent” when it comes to oil if we would only open more areas to drilling. The facts are that domestic oil production is at its highest levels in years, but gasoline prices are not determined by the amount of drilling in the U.S. During the price spikes last spring, domestic production was up, domestic demand was down, and prices still rose. They did so in response to international factors, because oil is a global commodity whose price is set on the world market.

For Louisiana, the defining energy event of the last two years was the BP Oil Disaster in 2010, which resulted from disastrous cost cutting, irresponsible management, agency corruption, and poor oversight. For a time capping of the well - and the future of the Gulf – seemed in doubt. The Obama administration’s decision to impose a temporary moratorium on new deepwater offshore drilling in May 2010 proved a flashpoint for Louisiana, as the GOP and much of state media helped channel anger away from the oil industry and onto the President. The moratorium ran from May 30, 2010 to October 12. The extent of its economic impacts has been hard to gauge – drilling activity was put on hold, but that was the intent. Predicted job losses in the industry failed to materialize as major companies kept their employees on the rolls.

The Congress could have acted to revise deepwater drilling rules, but failed to pass any new laws or to fund the administration’s reorganized agency charged with oversight offshore activity, earning a “D” grade from the National Oil Spill Commission in their April 2012 report card on the government’s ongoing response to the spill. Louisiana’s GOP was at the forefront in attacking the moratorium but also opposing new rules or regulations.

“Is Obama to Blame for $4 Gasoline?” Fact Check, March 24, 2011,

http://www.factcheck.org/2011/03/is-obama-to-blame-for-4-gasoline/

“Senator Mangles Facts on Drilling Moratorium,” Fact Check, July 27, 2012, http://www.factcheck.org/2012/07/senator-mangles-facts-on-drilling-moratorium/

 

The Coast

As it happens, the Louisiana Congressional Districts where Democrats are running are all coastal districts, and ground zero for the state’s growing vulnerability to hurricanes. Hurricane Isaac is a sign of things to come – while its winds never reached the level of a Katrina or Rita, the amount of water it dumped on southeast Louisiana during its slow transition caused some of the worst flood damage on record.

Perhaps appropriately, Isaac occurred on the anniversary of Katrina and during the GOP Convention. This served as a reminder of the Bush administration’s response in 2005 and what it revealed about how their method of governing regarded agencies like FEMA. It also provided an opportunity for some GOP officials to call for budget offsets before federal relief funds for the storm were spent. This is consistent with the cuts in disaster aid spending called for in Rep. Paul Ryan’s House budgets, and also with the call last year by GOP Minority Whip Eric Cantor for budget offsets for relief spending when Hurricane Irene hit the Atlantic Seaboard and New England.

Louisianans understand that we don’t need to hear about budget offsets when help is needed after a disaster – but some of our representatives don’t. GOP Congressmen Steve Scalise and Jeff Landry joined Cantor’s call for offsets after Hurricane Irene – but were strangely silent on this issue when Isaac drenched parts of their districts. They apparently remembered then what they forgot in 2011 – that their districts were ravaged by Katrina and Rita. Our neighbors in New England no doubt remembered that this year as well, but showed more class and humanity by not pushing for budget offsets when Louisiana officials were demanding that the federal government cover all costs for Isaac, even before it was known whether the damage reached the legal threshold for that requirement.

This demonstrates as strongly as anything the dead end course that the state’s GOP has put us on – Louisiana cannot plausibly embrace Tea Party economics calling for massive cuts in everything except defense (with massive new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans) and then turn around and demand $50 billion to restore our coast. Yes, doing so is in the national interest – but so are many other pressing needs that the GOP’s austerity plans leave hanging. If Landry, Scalise, et al, had shown some awareness of this, instead of ruthless partisanship and blind opposition to President Obama, Louisianas credibility would be intact as it pushed for federal funding for the coast.

Representative Richmond has been the exception in the state’s House delegation, calling out the shortsightedness of the Louisiana GOP. He and the other Democratic candidates, Vinny Mendoza and Ron Richard, can act as responsible diplomats to push Louisianas cause without the embarrassment and setbacks that Landry, Scalise, and company have imposed on us. This is a necessity, because even with the RESTORE Act and increased offshore oil revenues, there is no substitute for federal funding to pay for the bulk of Louisianas coastal restoration and protection needs.

“Some Louisiana Republicans back call to offset Hurricane Irene aid with cuts,” Times Picayune, August 29, 2011, http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/08/some_louisiana_republicans_bac.html

“Congress shouldn’t hold disaster victims hostage: an editorial,” Times Picayune, September 25, 2011, http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2011/09/congress_shouldnt_hold_disaste.html

“As Hurricane Isaac Targets New Orleans, GOP Rep. Calls For Making Disaster Relief Contingent on Budget Cuts,” Think Progress, August 28, 2012, http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/08/28/759151/raul-labrador-disaster-funding/?mobile=nc

 

Sincerely,

 

The Langhoff Family and the LaRoots Team