Governor of Katrina-Ravaged Louisiana Tries to Block Climate Change Regulation


It’s official.  The state that stands to suffer the most from human-caused global warming has elected leaders who want to stop efforts to avoid its inundation (see “Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100“).  That’s true of both Senators — see Senator Vitter of Katrina-ravaged Louisiana tries to block climate change response centers and Sen. Vitter opposes Lieberman-Warner and Landrieu wants to jettison cap-and-trade.  And it’s true of the Governor (and presidential hopeful), as Think Progress explains:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally moving to regulate global warming pollution. One of the leading opponents to the EPA’s proposed regulations, slated to go into effect in March, 2010, is Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA). On Monday, Jindal “and the secretaries of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and Louisiana Economic Development filed objections with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson,” claiming the Supreme-Court-mandated standards “will certainly have profound negative economic impacts“:

There is no doubt this change will certainly have profound negative economic impacts on the state of Louisiana, as well as the entire country.

Bobby JindalIn reality, regulations to limit greenhouse gases would reward business investment in labor instead of pollution, in new technology and development instead of reliance on 19th-century fuel sources. An analysis by the Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute found that strong regulation and standards would create billions in revenue and tens of thousands of new jobs:

Louisiana could see a net increase of about $2.2 billion in investment revenue and 29,000 jobs based on its share of a total of $150 billion in clean-energy investments annually across the country. This is even after assuming a reduction in fossil fuel spending equivalent to the increase in clean-energy investments.

Whereas regulation of pollution will likely benefit Louisiana’s economy, there is actually “no doubt” that unmitigated climate change “will certainly have profound negative economic impacts” on the state of Louisiana. “The letters say nothing about the cost of inaction,” the New Orleans Times-Picayune notes, “as Louisiana’s coastline is ravaged by rising sea levels, jeopardizing business investment in the state’s most populated areas”:

In 2005, the global-warming-fueled Hurricane Katrina devastated Jindal’s state, costing this nation $80 billion, killing thousands, and displacing a million people. Katrina and Rita caused $1.6 billion in agriculture damage in Louisiana alone.

In 2008, Hurricane Gustav “was the largest agricultural disaster in Louisiana history,” according to Jindal, as he announced the distribution of $54.8 million in federal taxpayer aid this month.

In 2009, this summer’s “record-setting heat wave and simultaneous dry spell,” followed by extreme “late-season rains,” buckled roads and further damaged crops, driving even more farmers into bankruptcy.

According to a recent scientific analysis published in Nature, “an additional 2 degrees of global warming could commit the planet to 6 to 9 meters (20 to 30 feet) of long-term sea level rise,” which would “permanently submerge New Orleans and other parts of southern Louisiana.”

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14 Responses to Governor of Katrina-Ravaged Louisiana Tries to Block Climate Change Regulation

  1. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Why invest in green energy and become a leader in new technology when you can just do business as usual, and then buy new technology from the Denmark (wind tech) or China. ;)

    Up here in Canada (Sudbury, Ontario) steel processors resisted efforts to make them install sulfur scrubbers on their chimneys to reduce the amount of acid rain and other pollutants. They cited market disadvantage, job loss, economic disruption, rising prices etc. However,once legislation forced them to change they became the world leaders in scrubber technology and exported that technology to other countries (last I checked this was mid-1990s so I don’t know what the situation is now).

    They also used to take out full page ads in magazines patting themselves on the back for being so innovative and green (they do have a right to be proud of what they’ve accomplished, but too bad they had to be coerced into doing it in the first place).

    There’s money to be made by developing something first and selling it to others who sat around and did very little until they had no choice. I just didn’t expect to see the U.S. and Canada being the ones who just sat around. Even if the politicians were not convinced that climate change was happening, you’d think they’d still recognize a money-making job-creating opportunity and then lobby to get funding to build new plants in their home state or province. That they don’t is puzzling, at least to me, but maybe Jindal knows better (like he did regarding stimulus funds and volcano research).

  2. Brewster says:

    Good Post, Daniel.

    I’m an Albertan, and I agree with every word.

  3. From Peru says:

    What was doing this BRAINLESS FROG when Katrina nearly waiped out New Orleans?
    When was he when the Bush Administration LEFT BEHIND THE PEOPLE OF NEW ORLEANS FOR 4 DAYS?

    The New Orleans People should go back to their French descent and make a People’s Court to symbolically CUT THE HEAD OF A BOBBY JINDAL PUPPET!

    And then put a banner that says:
    “We did it to LOUIS XVI, you are the Next! (unless you don’t condemn us to live underwater forever)”

  4. From Peru says:

    In the MAP, how much of the Louisiana Land is ALREADY UNDER SEA LEVEL?

    It is true that New Orleans is below sea level and is itself slowly sinking?

  5. riverat says:

    Some of New Orleans is under sea level but not all of it. Most of the land adjacent to the Mississippi River including the downtown area and the French Quarter are above sea level (for now). Once you get a ways north of the river up to the shore of Lake Pontchartrain it is below sea level. Here is a map of elevations.

  6. Andy says:

    Louisiana is already losing land and marsh at an incredible rate (about 30 square miles a year); quite a bit of it due to subsidence caused by often old wells that produce more water than oil. Yet, the folks making money off the wells; either as a business, a job, or a royalties, don’t seem to care. The folks who do, those who are losing their hunting and fishing livelihood or lifestyle, those who are losing their homes, those who are affected by increased storm surges – though they are much greater in number, they seem powerless.

    This is what has really struck me – when you get out on the ground and talk to people, the people know what is going on. The majority of Louisianan’s, at least those near the coast (the majority) would support whatever legislation would have the best chance of halting sea level rise. Yet, the elected officials only cater to those who are making money in the business. No, not because they are their source of campaign money, but rather because they are of a like mind. Most politicians are businessmen or women. I actually prefer the lawyers heaven help me.

    I think something akin to the civil rights movement is needed to bring attention to this issue and to bring it to a local level that has meaning to people.

  7. Bob O. says:

    Thank you for writing this piece. I’ve lived in New Orleans for 8 years, and watching Jindal, Vitter, and even Landrieu dance around this issue would be comical if it weren’t an issue of life and death. These people put on this punch and judy show while we lose a football field of land every HOUR!

    We have already seen what can happen when a storm hits our crumbling infrastructure, and we are watching our coastline melt into the sea before our eyes. Mr. Andy is absolutely right, if you put it to the residents of Louisiana, regardless of their political affiliation, they would overwhelmingly support climate mitigation efforts.

  8. Chris S says:

    Well, there goes Mardi Gras and crawfish season. Throw in peak oil and my home state will be nothing more than an impoverished collection of cotton farmers.

  9. chief says:

    Perhaps he thinks its a hoax, or thinks his constituents see it as such.

    It is a smart man who holds on to reason in the face of hysteria.

    Please get back to real environemntalism with real issues before its too late to retain some credibility.

  10. jay says:

    If a TWO meter sea level rise is “unstoppable” shouldn’t our resources best be utilized to deal with that outcome? Relocating vulnerable populations and denying new building in those areas?

    Under the scenario below, the CO 2 reductions we can accomplish are but a drop in the ocean at great expense.

  11. Jim Eager says:

    Chief, I’m sure Jindal thinks it’s a hoax, which means he’s already lost his hold on reason in the face of anti-science hysteria.

  12. Andy says:

    I bet Jindal believes global warming is a serious problem. He’s a smart Brown graduate; but he thinks we have plenty of time to act and that the worst effects can be mitigated with federal spending on infrastructure.

    Look at Louisiana’s Coast 2050 program. A program that if implemented would supposedly restore most of Louisiana’s coastal environment. Though I’ve worked with many of its authors, and they are sincere and very smart folks, the plan is full of unfounded techno-optimism.

    The bottom line is this: if we lose half of Louisiana by 2100; well most of the 2100 citizens won’t have ever seen what was lost. Good PR can convince them that it never existed. Humans have a seemingly unbounded capacity for self-delusion.

    Though you and I would blame Jindal’s and others actions, as long as they write the story they’ll still would be remembered as good conservatives who saved the State from federal bureacrats.

  13. Leif says:

    Jay, #10: “If two meter sea level seems unstoppable… mobilize… That is a two meter rise between now and 2100. However it does not stop. By 2200 you could be looking at another three meters and 2400 an additional four more. See the problem Jay??? Where do you stop? Personally I prefer mitigation up front.

  14. Christopher Yaun says:


    I do so love Louisiana and it breaks my heart to see it slip into the sea. Louisiana is a “canary in the coal mine”. I wish I could take all of you for a tour of the places I love. The Bluebonnet nature preserve in Baton Rouge….I grew up playing in that swamp….it has been “preserved” by the Nature Conservancy with donations from the corporations I love to hate. We have paved every inch right up to the waters edge….but damn if we didn’t “preserve” (read pickle) the swamp.

    Or the Red Tide Water Cypress swamps north of New Orleans. Next time you fly into New Orleans look out the window for the star shaped scars on the marshes. These are the scars left over 60 years ago by the “draglines” that were used to extract the timber. The Cypress forests will not recover in any time frame that we understand. With sea-level rise that is NEVER.

    Middendorfs Resturarant on Lake Maurepas was a destination restuarant as late as the 1960’s. The local fisherman would deliver the local fish and crabs to the kitchen door. Restoration efforts including ending shell dredging and oil drilling have restored a minimum of the lakes life. There used to be dozens of destination resturants around the lakes north of New Orleans that served the seafood taken from Maurepas and Ponchatrain by local fisherman.

    Much of the offshore oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico is serviced from Port Fourchon, south of New Orleans. Ask the political leaders of Lousisana how many tax dollars have been dedicated to keeping the port and the roads that service it above sealevel.

    The ecosystems of south Louisiana were destroyed in less than a hundred years. They will not be restored for any amount of money. Step back from the edge and let nature manage life the way it has for millions of years.