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13.9.06

Landrieu needs to demonstrate effectiveness on oil bill

We’ve heard enough claims from Sen. Mary Landrieu about her presumed contributions to Louisiana. The stalled oil extraction bill in Congress offers her a perfect opportunity to show, after a decade in the Senate, that she really does have some influence and that she can do something for the state other than raise the taxes of its citizens, vote against qualified nominees to the judiciary, try to squelch the economy with oppressive labor regulation, detract from flood control efforts, and subverting elections.

At present, Congress cannot agree upon two versions of legislation that promises to increase U.S energy independence dramatically, a byproduct of which would provide money to Louisiana for coastal protection. The House bill, authored by Rep. Bobby Jindal, would be much more generous to the states and more likely to allow for production of more oil. The Senate, however, seems resolute in letting out a more modest version. Senate Democrats are the driving force behind the intransigence.

We must understand one root cause of these Democrats’ opposition to the superior House version, H.R. 4761, stems from their devotion to an environmentalist agenda born of a distrust of free markets. The U.S. is the only oil producing country in the world that restricts drilling off its shores, despite the almost nonexistent environmental damage that oil spills, much less the normal drilling activities, do; 85 percent currently is off-limits. That tightens supply, driving up prices.

Landrieu should argue with her colleagues that not only would opening these areas (East and West coasts plus Florida) drive down prices to consumers, states could benefit because they will keep a much higher proportion of revenues generated 100 miles out that currently (with Louisiana reaping the greatest gains). If they followed Louisiana’s lead, that money could be used for coastal restoration. Thus, more drilling would help, rather than harm, the environment.

Senate Democrats also oppose it because it would reduce potential monies coming into the federal treasury relative to the Senate version (especially since Jindal’s bill applies retroactively in the royalty payments). They love big government and the control it has over people’s lives so much that they cannot stand to give away anything in their quest to fund it.


To counter this, Landrieu must point out to the coastal Democrats (and there are a dozen of them) the extra revenues their states could get, and that since total production will go up also, federal revenues also should rise as a result of this. The logic of these arguments is so clear that one must conclude opposition is ideological without any tie to the real world.

If Landrieu has learned anything after 10 years on the job, she should be able to convince enough Senate Democrats that do maintain touch with reality on this issue. They even could have it both ways – Pres. George W. Bush has signaled he prefers the Senate version for federal revenue maximization reasons, and if something close to Jindal’s version passed, he might veto it.

Unfortunately, political issues may intrude as well. Jindal almost is a certain opponent of Gov. Kathleen Blanco in her quest for reelection next year. Already the favorite, his momentum would increase by successful passage of his bill which would roll billions of dollars into the state treasury. Loyal Democrat that she is, Landrieu has proven consistently she’ll usually put party ahead of people in her decisions and so she may not push hard for anything that can bring Jindal credit.

No doubt in two years Landrieu will try to fend off challengers to her seat by attempting to convince voters of her effectiveness as a senator. But she has little ammunition to buttress that assertion; here’s an issue with which she can back up such talk.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Thank you for hitting hard on this. This subject has been the #1 issue on my blog. Louisiana needs all its reps. and leaders to be non-partisan and pro-Louisiana ONLY on this issue.