President Obama is heading to New Orleans Thursday to mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. But there’s one subject Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal hopes the president won’t broach in his remarks to city residents: climate change.
Jindal, who’s also running for president on the Republican ticket, sent a letter to Obama Wednesday urging the president not to mention climate change during his trip to Louisiana.
“Although I understand that your emphasis in New Orleans will — rightly — be on economic development, the temptation to stray into climate change politics should be resisted,” Jindal states in the letter. “While you and others may be of the opinion that we can legislate away hurricanes with higher taxes, business regulations and EPA power grabs, that is not a view shared by many Louisianians. I would ask you to respect this important time of remembrance by not inserting the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism.”
This week, Jindal writes in the letter, should be solely about mourning those lost in the storm and celebrating the recovery New Orleans has made so far.
But Obama had a different plan for his time in New Orleans. The trip is the second stop in his 11-day climate tour, a trip that started at the Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas and will end in Alaska. Along the way, Obama is planning on speaking about the country’s need to invest in renewable energy, protect coastal communities, and be part of a global effort to address climate change.
In New Orleans, Obama is planning to discuss the city’s “extraordinary resilience” in the face of the storm, and is also going to address the government’s failings when it came to serving the people of New Orleans. But climate change — and the need to protect communities like New Orleans from future disasters — is also expected to come up.
“One thing that the president will certainly talk about in New Orleans tomorrow is the need for the federal government, and in communities all across the country, to make the kinds of investments in resilience so that our communities can better withstand stronger tornadoes, more violent hurricanes, more widespread wildfires, those kinds of things,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
The White House hasn’t yet responded to Jindal’s letter. But the governor, who’s trailing behind his fellow Republican presidential contenders in opinion polls, was clear in his letter that the president shouldn’t stray far from the topic of Louisiana and its response to the storm.
“A lecture on climate change would do nothing to improve upon what we are already doing. Quite the opposite; it would distract from the losses we have suffered, diminish the restoration efforts we have made, and overshadow the miracle that has been the Louisiana comeback,” Jindal writes. “Partisan politics from Washington, D.C. are unwelcome in Louisiana at the best of times. This week it would be met with nothing but derision.”
Jindal’s long been skeptical of government efforts to address climate change and wary of the scientific consensus that humans are the main cause of climate change. Jindal said in 2014 that though he does think humans play a role in climate change, “the real question is how much.” He’s also called climate change a “Trojan horse” used by the federal government to increase regulation.
Despite Jindal’s views of climate change and how it relates to Katrina, however, climate change is already contributing to extreme weather events around the world. And as oceans heat up, the warmer waters are expected to intensify hurricanes.