Louisiana Needs Republicans to Be Pro-Environment | The Times-Picayune

Louisiana Needs Republicans to Be Pro-Environment | The Times-Picayune

Photo by Kenneth Harrison

For more than 30 years fellow Louisianians have been asking me this question: “What can I do to help the state prevent our bottom third from being consumed by the Gulf of Mexico?”

The answer has become inescapable: Join the Republican Party — and change it. I do not offer that solution lightly. Some of my best friends are Democrats. I even married one.

But with this state destined to remain deeply Red for decades, the survival of many Bayou State communities between Baton Rouge and the Gulf depends not on our 50-year, $92 billion coastal master plan, but on how the Republicans we send to Congress and Baton Rouge vote on climate change issues.

And so far, their votes are drowning us — and making a mockery of efforts to find the $92 billion for that plan. Last week was a perfect example.

One day a peer-reviewed study co-authored by researchers at Tulane University made national headlines by reaching this conclusion: Unless current rates of sea level rise are reduced, the coastal master plan will fail because over the next 50 to 80 years those rising seas will swallow almost anything we build over. Science has proven that acceleration in sea level rise is being pushed by greenhouse gas emissions caused largely by the burning of oil, coal, gas and other fossil fuels.

But just a few days later, another headline told us this: Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry joined 14 GOP state AGs in filing a brief in support of oil companies California cities are suing for their part in producing those emissions — the same emissions threatening to flood south Louisiana.

Granted, Landry is known to have an oracle complex. He recently proclaimed climate change was a hoax, in effect telling us his law degree gives him more expertise on the future of the climate than 97 percent of all the published climate scientists in the world. But this is not an isolated case when it comes to the GOP pols Louisiana elects.

Rep. Steve Scalise from Metairie — the GOP Whip in the House of Representatives — agrees with Landry. His degree in political science apparently confers on him great insights into climate science that have escaped Louisiana researcher Virginia Burkett, who shared a Nobel Prize for work on climate science.

And our entire GOP delegation — including Rep. Garret Graves, who once headed the coastal master plan effort — are complicit in this anti-coast, anti-science movement. They not only opposed past legislation and regulations designed to reduce greenhouse gas emission, they are supporting the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll them all back, as well as opposing having oil companies pay for their part in the disaster.

And they are doing this, even while the state’s Legislature unanimously endorsed the 2017 edition of the coastal master plan, which clearly states that its success depends on reducing sea level rise. The plan that once boasted it could result in the state gaining more land than it is losing in aggregate by 2067, now concludes everything depends on reducing emissions. If the Paris Climate Accords work, we will lose only an additional 1,200 square miles with the plan. If those accords don’t work, we’ll lose another 2,800 square miles — home to communities, and thousands of oil, gas and fisheries jobs.

But President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris agreement, raising the odds that effort will fail. And while almost every Democratic member of Congress objected, not a single GOP congressman from Louisiana — the state most imperiled by those emissions — voiced concerns.

By now it’s painfully obvious the GOP is the biggest obstacle to the survival of south Louisiana.

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