Making industry pay its share

Published: Friday, August 9, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 9, 2013 at 10:31 p.m.

The lawsuit against major oil companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East is long overdue.

For years we have seen how offshore oil exploration and production have damaged our wetlands.

Yet no statewide politician except Gov. Dave Treen has tried to hold the industry accountable.

Our elected officials want to blame the federal government.

Certainly its construction of levees to control the Mississippi River robbed the delta of land-building sediment.

But the people of Kansas, Vermont and the other states did not cut oilfield canals through our marsh, drill oil wells in our wetlands and pump oil out of the ground until it sinks into the Gulf.

Why do Louisiana politicians ignore the oil companies and put the burden of coastal restoration on American taxpayers?

Could it be that they depend on oil-industry contributions?

I served in the Louisiana Senate for 27 years and on the Public Service Commission since 2003.

In that time, Treen has been virtually the only Louisiana politician to ask the oil companies to pay for the damage they caused.

When Treen introduced his Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy, the oil companies that helped elect him became his enemies in a matter of days.

Bobby Jindal argued against suing the tobacco companies in the 1990s when he was secretary of health and hospitals.

Fortunately the state didn’t listen, and we got $4 billion from Big Tobacco to help treat people in state hospitals with illnesses from smoking.

Jindal represents the special interests. First it was the tobacco companies, now it’s the major oil companies.

As for the claim that this lawsuit will “shut down” the oil industry, consider that Louisiana and Texas have 40 percent of U.S. refining capacity, and these plants are running wide open.

Louisiana has the Mississippi River to transport products, 50,000 miles of pipeline and some of the world’s most-productive oil and gas fields off our coast.

Can anyone seriously say the industry is leaving?

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has drawn a line in the dirt.
Its suit against major oil companies for their role in coastal erosion challenges the politicians of Louisiana to defend our state like they would defend their own property.

If Bobby Jindal, Mary Landrieu, David Vitter or any other politician were to suffer damage to their own property like we have seen in the wetlands, would they look the other way?

Foster Campbell
Public service commissioner
Bossier City

Special thanks to Richard Charter

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