For the past couple of weeks, I've been doing research on a letter I'm writing on "why the Gulf Coast matters" in hopes of encouraging some of the more passive politicians up in D.C. to participate more aggressively in passing legislation that will assist Gulf Coast citizens in the rebuilding and help protect them against flooding and tidal surges in the future.
While gathering further information, I discovered that my local representative is responsible for writing up the "Domestic Energy Production through Offshore Exploration and Equitable Treatment of State Holdings Act of 2006
" (H.R. 4761) which, according to Representative Jindal's website
, will "bring Louisiana up to 75 percent of energy royalties produced offshore."
I'm sure that many remember remember last December's recovery spending bill
, which gained most of its notoriety from Senator Landrieu's no-recess threat
. However, the original bill--which included a precept that allowed drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge--was filibustered. Eventually, before the senate's holiday recess, the bill was passed--once the ANWR was stripped.
While the ANWR drilling precept was shaved from the bill, there was the possibility that the bill would have been passed without the removal of the ANWR legislation. I am against drilling in the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but I also want the coastal states to get the financial aid that they rightly deserve. Should others force me to compromise my ideals in order to help those in need? Should I be forced to choose between two personal ideologies?
I realize that negotiations are--and have always been--a part of politics. But when people are in need, should people take advantage of an unfortunate, desperate situation and use it to promote their own agendas?
I don't think so, but many politicians are quick to take advantage
of the Gulf Coast's plight:
The Senate measure provides money for the war in Iraq, and for hurricane recovery. But it also contains billions of dollars for lawmakers' pet projects.
Passing these bills would be quicker and easier if they focused exclusively on one theme (i.e., Gulf Coast relief, funding for the War in Iraq, etc.), rather than several different issues at once. As in the case of the ANWR drilling controversy, many of the democrats who opposed the drilling in Alaska (and subsequently, delayed the passage of the bill), supported funding the Gulf Coast in their time of need, but refused to support the bill because of the ANWR drilling precept.
It's not uncommon for politicians to make compromises
in order to help legislation pass. By adding legislation that caters to the interests of other politicians, the bill is more likely to be approved by those individuals who would otherwise turn it down; that's why it's not unsual to find pet projects strung onto the end of many big issue bills. However, the more bogged down these bills become with unrelated material, the more likely they are to solicit opposition.
As a result, Louisiana is stuck in a "Catch-22": if we cater to the demands of others, we delay the passage of bills that offer the Gulf Coast much-needed relief; if we don't, we still delay the passage of those bills.
Regardless of what action we take, it will likely be a long time
before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Blanco, however, is also taking an active (and hopefully more expeditious) route
in hopes of collecting our fair share of the gas and oil revenue:
As this year's hurricane season began Thursday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco reiterated her pledge to block the August sale of oil and gas leases in the western Gulf of Mexico -- which in August last year netted more than $283 million for the federal government's general fund -- unless Louisiana gets a substantial share of offshore revenues.
Blanco said she'd prefer that coastal oil-producing states receive "a 50 percent share of the royalties," money desperately needed to finance efforts to restore Louisiana's wetlands.
However, threats like these are of no use to Louisiana if they are not followed through. The Gulf Coast may have gotten the $93 billion last year before Senate recessed for the holidays, but would Mary Landrieu have--and been able--to follow through with threat to hold the Senate through Christmas? Will Blanco's threats become reality in August?
We'll just have to wait and see, but I'm not expecting any miracles.