Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Yeah good luck

In today's Advocate, Quin Hillyer and John Barry argue in favor of a new levy on oil and gas processing in order to supplement the state coastal restoration trust fund. It's not a new idea.
Those long involved with coastal wetlands policy know, however, that the politics of these projects can be far more complicated than the engineering. Where will the diversions (or other projects) occur? Who will be left outside a protection system? Who will pay for it? Current and expected revenue sources will provide some of the $50 billion, certainly enough to get started but nowhere near the entirety of it (much less the $95 billion, inflation-adjusted). CPRA director Jerome Zeringue says, “These projects build on each other, and it all depends on the money for our ability to implement them.”

That’s why we need the Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy: to provide sustainable, reliable funding for Master Plan projects. The size of the levy could be negotiable and certainly small enough as to not deter energy companies from doing business and providing jobs in Louisiana. When Treen proposed it in 1982, it would have assessed 6 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas and 36 cents per barrel of oil “for the use of facilities associated with the transportation” of the fuels through the wetlands.

As oil prices per barrel have more than tripled since then to more than $90 per barrel, surely the companies could afford a similar, meager levy today.
Sounds so reasonable.  Except that politically it will be a non-starter.  Just like it was in 1982.  Just like it was in 2007 when gubernatorial candidate Foster Campbell proposed a similar oil processing fee.
The processing fee will produce $5.5 billion each year. Even after eliminating the state income tax and the severance tax, Louisiana will gain an additional $1.7 billion in revenue every year. Foster will devote $1 billion a year to restoring coastal wetlands, damaged in part by mineral extraction and the thousands of miles of canals dug in our marshes to aid offshore exploration and production.

The remainder of the new funding obtained through the Campbell plan will be devoted to highway construction, improving our schools and other critical needs.
Campbell was offering to eliminate your state income taxes with his proposal.  All Barry and Hillyer want to do is fix the wetlands.  I know that sounds weird, but you have to understand people's priorities.  

The point is, either way, nothing will get done over the screeches of "Yer tryin'a kill our jobssss!" from the Oil Party.  Nice try, though.

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