Editorials and Opinions: Support Mounts

Honoring Constitutional Rights: OPINION

MAY 20, 2014

Of all the words spoken down through the ages in the halls of our state government, none resound with greater authority than these: “We, the people of Louisiana…It makes explicit that, above all else, our government exists to advance and defend the rights of our people, rights enshrined in that hallowed document as “inviolate.”

“Every citizen of Louisiana has a right to be safe — to have safe drinking water, clean air, and
to be safe from storm surge flooding.

“…the people have spoken quite clearly. Eighty-­‐two percent of voters across Louisiana rose up from the ruins of Hurricane Katrina to say this: Take politics and patronage out of our levee system and put accountability and professionalism back in.

“…Senate Bill 553… would take us back to the days when our levees were the playground of political cronies and hangers-­‐on…the real aim of this bill is to end a lawsuit the levee board filed last summer to hold the oil and gas industry to account for the damage it has done to the coastal lands of our state…The levee board believes the law requires the oil and gas
companies to repair the damage they did…If the oil and gas companies have obeyed the law,
why wouldn’t they want a judge to say so?

“…Say no to this pernicious bill. Say yes to the law of the land. And stand up for the rights of
we the people of Louisiana, inviolate. (05/20/2014)

Lifes Depend on Flood Authority's Independence: EDITORIAL

“…Members of the Civil Law committee have a chance to do the right thing, and stop SB 553…Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans and the Bureau of Governmental Research both issued statements opposing SB 553 Thursday… ‘The political independence of these two regional flood protection authorities relies hugely on their status as political subdivisions.’

“.. Pre-Katrina, local levee boards operated like little fiefdoms, doling out patronage. The constitutional amendment that passed in 2006 replaced those crony-­‐filled levee boards with two regional flood authorities, which are made up of engineers, hydrologists and other experts. The law was written purposefully to shield the authorities as much as possible from political pressures.

“… Despite all the howling in Baton Rouge about the authority's lawsuit, it isn't improper. Gov. Jindal and Sen. Adley, who owns a natural gas management company in northwest Louisiana, just don't like the fact that the authority dared to file it…But lawmakers should let the courts decide whether the lawsuit has merit.

“Legislators, especially those from the greater New Orleans area, need to understand the ramifications of nullifying this legal action…The state's master plan…will cost at least $50 billion and there isn't nearly enough tax money to pay for it…The East Authority has asked a fair question: Why shouldn't oil and gas companies, which contributed to the damage, pay part of the cost to fix it?

“… Post-Katrina levee board reforms are among the most positive changes in our region. The new authorities are infinitely better -­‐-­‐ and smarter -­‐-­‐ watchdogs than the old boards. That is due in large part to board members' credentials and the independence they were given to do their jobs….do the right thing and let the flood authorities continue their vital work.(5/16/2014)

Our Views: Don’t Gut 2006 Reforms

MAY 19, 2014

Voters had a lot to consider when they went to the polls on Sept. 30, 2006. The ballot included 13 constitutional amendments, many reflecting the ambitions and anxieties of a state still recovering from the costliest disaster in U.S. history…

…Powerful energy interests are understandably upset and they have joined forces with politicians who never wanted to give up their control over flood protection in the first place…..Their first attack was Senate Bill 79 which allows Gov. Bobby Jindal to fire authority members and find willing replacements. But defenders of the 2006 reforms seem to have sidetracked that measure.

…Lawsuit foes will try another attack with Senate Bill 553, which would require that the authorities get written permission from the governor before hiring special counsel….the only way to stop them is to rekindle the reform spirit that made 2006 such an important year in the recovery of our state. (05/19/2014)

Louisiana Lawsuits Seek Oil and Gas Money to Restore Coastline

MAY 18, 2I014

“Every two weeks, a swath of Louisiana the size of this city's French Quarter vanishes into the Gulf of Mexico. Since the 1930s, the state has lost nearly 1,900 square miles, a quarter of its coastal land area…Without the buffer of these marshes and barrier islands, Louisiana's many low-­‐lying coastal communities — and its biggest city — now have little natural protection from storm surges created by hurricanes.

“The cost of rebuilding the defenses is estimated at $50 billion or more, but so far, there's
little money for it.…The lawsuit alleges that in ‘racing to extract the region's resources,’ the oil and gas industry built a canal network of more than 10,000 miles that is ‘a mercilessly efficient, continuously expanding system of ecological destruction.’

"…’We have been told for so long that the oil and gas industry is the hand that feeds us and that we are biting the hand that feeds us,’ said Tim Doody, president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-­‐East…‘But other places require them to be responsible businesses, and that's all that I want.’ "

“…The levee board contends it acted in part because the state cannot afford to fix the coast. "We just don't think you have the money," said Gladstone Jones, the board's attorney, at a testy January hearing held by Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. ‘The money and liability that these oil companies have: It's laid out in black and white what they did, when they did it; there are aerial photographs of it.’ " (MAY 18, 2014)

Why Not Let the Courts Decide?

MAY 7, 2I014

“...Legislation to stop any existing or future lawsuits is plowing through the Legislature like the oil companies plowed through our wetlands.

“…Our governor and law-­‐makers are listening to a noisy and extremely profitable industry, but not to the people. It is exhausting to have the same battle over again and people are weary….How many times do we have to say "No"?

But whatever, Here’s the LA. Coast in 2200

MAY 16, 2014

“The water gonna rise — not to mention but we will the intensity of hurricanes and wildfires, droughts and tornados — all in a couple centuries’ work for us fossil fuel-­‐loving homo sapiens…Baton Rouge will become a capital city on a bay…” (05/16/2014)