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Woke EPA engages LA in Biden fossil fuel war

What can a woke Environmental Protection Agency do? Louisiana is a canary in the coal mine on that account.

Last November, agency Administrator Michael Regan undertook a self-styled “Journey to Justice” tour of several locations in and around Louisiana in proximity to industrial sites, focusing on communities typically poorer and nonwhite. The name echoes the “environmental racism” concept adopted by the political left that maintains this injustice occurs when pollution policy differentially detrimentally impacts, including unintentionally, communities disproportionately composed of racial minorities. That notion neatly adheres to the prevailing neo-racist ethos on the left that American institutions of all kinds are systemically racist and that to provide evidence otherwise is itself an act of racism.

Regan’s trip, among other actions, signaled a return to politicization of the EPA towards much more heavy-handed and politically-driven administration. This departs from the agency under Republican former Pres. Donald Trump, where it instituted deregulation of needless government oversight that, if anything, improved outcomes, as witnessed by its building on the long-term decline in air pollution. Unfortunately, the EPA under Democrat Pres. Joe Biden already has started to reverse these gains, one of which Louisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy and others protested this week that for no good reason would harm disproportionately Louisiana industry.


Advocate scribe promotes fake GOP hypocrisy

Legacy media love to foment “gotcha” stories, especially when involving conservative elected officials – no matter how disingenuous and dishonest such reporting must be, as the Baton Rouge Advocate’s Mark Ballard demonstrated recently.

The leftists that dominate the media’s ranks as stock in trade attempt to foist a false double-standard when evaluating liberals and conservatives. Sometimes it’s praising the former while condemning the latter for similar actions, even when the balance of evidence weighs greater on the validity of the latter’s actions. A current example involves widespread media condemnation, accompanied by authoritative pronouncements decrying anything other than adopting this conclusion as untrue, of the idea often forwarded by Republican that 2020 elections had more than non-trivial infirmities associated with them, yet great credibility is granted to the proposition with nary a shred of proof that the same Republicans now threaten to “steal” elections later this year. Indeed, the media uncritically parrot Democrat assertions that it is “dangerous” to question the integrity of a past election with identifiable problems, yet without recognizing any irony attached to it think it laudatory to use the same adjective concerning an election that hasn’t even happened.

Ballard provided another type of example, where media allege conservatives argue for one thing, but then happily accept and promote the other. He used this tactic when discussing the reaction of some Louisiana congressional Republicans to projects announced spun off from the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act, which all but Sen. Bill Cassidy voted against. Their promoting this spending Ballard implies denotes hypocrisy because they rejected the bill.


Edwards stumping for imprudent new spending

While less offensive than previous efforts, the fiscal year 2023 budget proposed by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards is one where he still talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Much more money than expected even a year ago as a consequence of uncertainties over the Wuhan coronavirus will come rolling in, adding to extra cash from last and, projected so far, this budgetary year. By the Constitution and statute, as well as federal law attached to grants, much has to go towards specific non-recurring uses.

The $1.384 billion extra coming from the federal government sensibly will have $550 million going towards replenishing the state’s unemployment trust fund with the federal government so as to avoid interest charges, and the remainder will go to major transportation and local water and sewerage systems (although $25 million to upgrade rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans for faster passenger travel does nothing if the state doesn’t subsidize future such travel, which it shouldn’t). Of the just under $700 million in surplus FY21 money, it also has largely wise spending plans attached to it; after taking out the required $175 million towards the Budgetary Stabilization Fund and $70 million towards defeasance of the unfunded accrued liability due for payoff in 2029, highways, coastal restoration, and deferred maintenance get the rest.


Mostly incremental LA reapportionment to start

Louisiana’s Legislature in a special session of three weeks’ maximum length embarks upon reapportionment next week, likely producing little change except perhaps with its judicial districts.

By the next set of elections, this fall, lawmakers intend to have redrawn boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, both legislative chambers, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Public Service Commission, and the State Supreme Court. Legislators have travelled the state the past few months soliciting input about how the new maps should look.

The most high-profile suggestions have come from a collection of politically far left interest groups, whose universal theme maintains that additional majority-minority districts that would end up favoring Democrats should come to fruition – one more for each of Congress and BESE, and several more for each chamber of the Legislature, on the basis that in overall state population the proportion of whites declined 2.9 percent to just over 60 percent while that of blacks rose 1.1 percent to about a third. However, the plans they champion run into constitutional problems because they use race as the dominant criterion to do this, which the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected where it allows race at most as one of several criteria that may be employed.


Left's district maps for Legislature go too far

A motley krewe of left-wing interest groups once more has injected itself into Louisiana’s reapportionment process – and once more betrays a transparent political agenda attempting to set the stage to maximize its quest for power.

Headed by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, this time the groups weigh in on the Legislature’s future district plans. They already have done so for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, stumping for an additional majority-minority district for each.

Each of these previous proposals has constitutional problems. Jurisprudence allows using race as a criterion to draw lines if (1) a minority racial group is sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district; (2) the group is politically cohesive; and (3) bloc voting by a white majority must usually defeat the minority group’s preferred candidate. The groups make somewhat inflated claims in order to demonstrate satisfaction of these criteria, but even conceding race should play some role in map-making, jurisprudence also is such that race cannot be the dominant criterion absent unusual circumstances, which in their House and BESE maps they violate (additionally, in the case of BESE they attempt to use a judicial standard rejected by the courts.)