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News > Editorials
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Oct 25, 2006
EDITORIAL: Playing hardball works out for La.

Periodically, the press office will publish editorials and columns that feature Governor Blanco's work in various areas.

EDITORIAL: Playing hardball works out for La.
Published by: The Shreveport Times (Shreveport, LA)
Date: October 25, 2006

Louisiana's quest for better national understanding of its disappearing coast has scored wins on both substantive and public relations fronts.

It's a shame it took a lawsuit to force the federal government to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment of the debilitating wear and tear oil and gas exploration has had on the coast. From miles of canals created to move drilling rigs to the subsidence phenomenon, the federal government will have its own set of data to drive home Louisiana's case for greater federal assistance in restoring this coastal buffer.

On the PR front, the state's congressional delegation picked up some editorial support from the New York Times which has reconsidered its stand on letting Louisiana keep more royalties from oil and gas production off our coast. Whether you agree with that newspaper or not, it is still widely read by opinion makers and shapers in and outside government.

Such good press can also help the governor as she travels to New York to convince Wall Street investors and financial press that Louisiana is a good investment.

Blanco's decision to play hardball with the federal government paid off in seeking to hold up offshore leases until the federal government followed the law and conducted comprehensive environmental assessments.

The settlement of the lawsuit mere weeks before trial requires the impact statement to take into account "the changed landscape of Louisiana due to the 2005 storm season and the cumulative impacts" of offshore oil drilling. Even before Katrina and Rita hit the state had been working to get Washington's attention on why it needed an infusion of federal dollars both to protect a key national energy platform, but an important breeding ground for the seafood industry. The 2005 hurricane season vividly illustrated what happens with the loss of miles of marshlands that could have blunted the surges of Katrina and Rita. And when the storms passed, the coast had lost another 200 miles of wetland in 2005, instead of the usual 20.

In noting the New York Times endorsement of more royalties, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said time was growing short on getting the Senate version approved this year. Otherwise it could get rolled into a more comprehensive energy bill and take several years to wend its way through Congress. The House version is much more generous to Louisiana -- a sliding rate that could mean billions -- and therefore more difficult to pass. The Senate version would give Louisiana and other Gulf states a 37.5 percent royalty on 8.3 million acres newly opened for drilling in the Gulf Mexico. By one estimate, this bill would bring in $200 million annually for the first 10 years and $650 million after.

The state in a series of constitutional amendments has done what it can by promising to set aside additional royalty dollars to coastal restoration and hurricane protection. Now it's time for Congress to do the right thing by finally giving the state a larger share of revenues.


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