Blanco not waiting around to join coast fight

Go back to school for mudbug lessons that will help you catch more bass.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s predecessor was a Johnny-come-lately to the coastal erosion battle, finally making it the hallmark of his second term. Still, he should be applauded for addressing the issue in more tangible ways than any governor before him.

But Blanco isn’t waiting quite that long.

Having been in office for just over a year, Blanco has come to the coastal-erosion fight without any gloves. She’s bare-knuckling it, and she’s throwing punches to rival anything Ali or Frazier dished out in the Thrilla.

In January, Blanco signed a joint agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pledging the state’s commitment to five projects that will take a tiny step toward shoring up Louisiana’s fragile coast. The $1.8 billion needed to fund the projects has been authorized by the Bush administration, but final approval from Congress is still necessary.

O.K., so that’s an easy one. The federal government is planning to offer the state money, and Blanco basically said, “We’ll take it, and do with it what you want.”

But Blanco hasn’t been content to just sit back and see what the federal government is willing to do to stem the rapid loss of Louisiana’s critical coast. She’s been aggressively campaigning to educate politicians and average Joes across America about the value of our coast to those very people.

“(Hurricane) Ivan destroyed some of our few remaining barrier islands,” Blanco wrote in a Dec. 8, 2004, op-ed piece in The Washington Post. “But even without a hurricane’s ravages, much of our state is washing away day by day, posing a threat to our lives and to the nation’s economy. … This is America’s Wetland. … These wetlands protect thousands of miles of pipelines carrying oil and gas from offshore rigs along with interstate pipelines supplying consumers of every stripe and size across the nation. Allowing the erosion to continue would first constrict, then strangle, this flow of energy to homes, cars and businesses.”

Blanco concluded the column on a positive note.

“Oil and gas production off Louisiana’s coast pumps an average of $5 billion into the federal treasury,” she wrote. “Dedicating just a fraction of the federal revenue from Louisiana offshore production could stop the loss of this regional wetland. This is a potential national disaster that need not happen.”

And that’s apparently the route Blanco has chosen in order to provide ongoing dollars to fight — and perhaps even win — the battle to save our coast.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Blanco intends to stress to President Bush late this winter the need for Louisiana to receive a significant portion of the taxes generated from oil and gas drilling off our coast. If the president refuses to support the idea or delays it, the state will begin rejecting new requests for drilling licenses.

“These people could hold the nation hostage,” Phil Flynn, an energy analyst at Alaron Trading Corp., told the Times. “Basically, I think it would be a very wise thing to give them their way.”

To Gov. Blanco, I have only one thing to say, and I mean this with the utmost respect: You go, girl!

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About Todd Masson 606 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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