Blanco’s bold move is coast’s only hope

If you’re a Louisiana resident, George W. Bush is the worst president you’ve ever had.Jimmy Carter was bad, but at least he was an equal-opportunity disaster. The malaise he induced was divvied among the states equally.

But Bush seems especially inclined to put the screws to the Bayou State. The fact that he barely mentioned the worst natural disaster to ever befall America in his State of the Union speech was very telling. Even our state’s Republican leaders couldn’t help gnashing their teeth after that one.

And to make matters exponentially worse, Bush is serving at a time when Louisiana has its worst governor in history.

Every time I watch Blanco speak, I’m utterly amazed she was ever elected to any political office, much less the highest seat in our state. No wonder our fellow Americans are reluctant to fork over enough coins for us to stand on to climb out of the gaping hole last season’s hurricanes hurled us into. They must figure if Blanco is the best we can offer, we’re obviously a state of idiots and buffoons.

That being the case, they’re probably comfortable diluting the citizens of our great state throughout the country, and removing one star from Old Glory.

It’s now impossible to ignore that as long as Bush is in the White House, Louisiana will have to scratch and claw for her very existence.

Some might think that’s overstated. It isn’t.

Even Gov. Blanco, who at times seems simpler and more unassuming than Forrest Gump, recognizes this. It was obvious last month, when the governor finally bore her fangs. Well, at least she threatened to.

In a letter to the Minerals Management Service, Blanco hinted that she might refuse to sign any leases for future oil and gas drilling off the Louisiana coast, a position called for in this column in December.

Such an action would be painful in Louisiana. So much of our economy depends on the dollars generated by the oil industry — from the grunts on the platforms to the white-collared engineers who design them.

But for too long, our nation has helped itself to Louisiana’s oil while leaving us with nothing but environmental scars and flooded cities to show its gratitude. Louisiana’s residents should live like the sheiks of Saudi Arabia, but instead, we more resemble the inland natives of South America.

Our political leaders — Sens. David Vitter and Mary Landrieu primarily — have pushed hard in recent months for Louisiana to receive a portion of the $6 billion in tax money generated from the oil and gas drilled off our coast. This is essential because Louisiana needs a consistent revenue stream if we’re ever going to begin the large-scale projects it’ll take to restore our coast and protect us from future Katrinas. If we get the money in drips and drabs, we’ll fund bunches of small projects that won’t have near the impact of something like the Third Delta Conveyance Channel.

But the White House has smiled at our senators while building a brick wall in their path. Louisiana continues to receive only 27 percent of the taxes for oil drilled from 3 to 6 miles off our coast — nothing for oil drilled more than 6 miles away — while Texas gets 100 percent of the tax dollars generated from oil drilled up to 9 miles off its coast.

In 2005, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming all made more in tax dollars for oil extracted from federal property than Louisiana. That’s disgusting, and it needs to change. Now.

About Todd Masson 731 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.