Monday, June 23, 2014

Qatar on the Bayou

Fascinating choice of metaphor.
So let's put it this way: We are building a Qatar on the Bayou. From whole cloth, companies are laying new cities of fertilizer plants, boron manufacturers, methanol terminals, polymer plants, ammonia factories and paper-finishing facilities. In computer renderings, the Sasol site looks like a fearsome, steel-fitted Angkor Wat.

In all, some 66 industrial projects—worth some $90 billion—will be breaking ground over the next five years in Louisiana, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance. Tens of billions of other new investments could be coming, says Louisiana's economic development secretary, Stephen Moret. How many projects will actually get built remains to be seen.

Assuming that most will, you realize we are still probably underestimating the positive impact of the gas boom on both local and national economies. The entire GDP of the state of Louisiana is about $250 billion annually.

"As an economist, I can only say,‘'Wow. Holy Cow,'" said Loren Scott, a Louisiana economist who has studied the state for 40 years. "We typically measured expansion in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars. Something like that makes your eyes bug out." He expects, for instance, that once 10-year tax-abatement deals expire, schools boards will "find themselves with a bonanza."
A report in Britain's Guardian newspaper says thousands of Nepalese workers are toiling away in conditions that amount to modern-day slavery.

It says some have not been paid for months, while others have been denied access to drinking water on construction sites.

Journalist Pete Pattison says many of the young men are dying from heart failure.

"We can say with confidence at least 44 Nepalese migrant workers - not migrant workers from other countries, just Nepalese workers - have died between early June and early August," he said.

"Many of these men are dying from some form of heart failure. Many people think it's because of the extreme conditions they work under.
The Angkor Wat  is in Cambodia, by the way.  So it may seem like sloppy imagery to place Sasol's metaphorical "steel-fitted" Angkor Wat into "Qatar on the Bayou"  there's still an underlying consistency.
— Cambodia remains on a US watch list of countries that need to do more to combat human trafficking.

The US issued its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report Friday, rating countries around the world on their attempts to fight the crime. Cambodia was rated a Tier 2 watch list country.

“Cambodia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking,” the report says. “The government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, it is making significant efforts to do so.

“Although numerous forms of human trafficking continued to occur in Cambodia, the government prosecuted and convicted fewer trafficking offenders and identified fewer victims than it did in the previous year,” the report says.

“Endemic corruption at all levels of the Cambodian government continues to severely limit the ability of individual officials to make progress in holding traffickers accountable,” the report says.
So let's hope they aren't taking the aspiration to build these things "on the bayou" too literally.  We want to make sure we're not living in a human rights cesspool of a slave state by the time we finally get to come back and ask Loren Scott where the "bonanza" is.. you know.. in another 10 years or so. 

Update:  While we're waiting on that 10 year thing.. please feel free to enjoy the ride.
Louisiana's waterways are among the most polluted in the nation, with industrial facilities releasing more than 12.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals into rivers, bayous and other waters in 2012, according to a report released Thursday (June 19) by the Environment America Research and Policy Center.

The Washington D.C.-based group is calling on Congress to reinforce protections for waterways under the Clean Water Act. The industry says it's already working to cut down on pollution.

According to the report, industrial facilities put more than 206 million pounds of chemicals into waterways nationwide in 2012.

No comments: