Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Umbilical pipleline

Foster Campbell wrote a letter to the Advocate this week.
Louisiana will suffer chronic financial problems until we break the grip of the major oil companies on the Legislature and governor.

An umbilical cord connects our legislators and governor to Big Oil. That cord may feed the politicians, but Louisiana continues to rank poorly in educational, environmental and economic well-being.

Facing a $1.6 billion deficit next year, the Legislature taxed its weakest constituents and largely left the companies untouched. College students and parents face higher tuition, motorists more gas taxes and smokers higher tobacco taxes.

Working-class and elderly Louisiana residents will endure cutbacks in health care. State employees will see their paychecks and benefits squeezed.

This ugly picture plays out as Louisiana approaches the 100th anniversary of its Oil and Gas Severance Tax. This antique from 1921 taxes in-state production but ignores the enormous quantities of oil and gas brought to Louisiana for processing.
Campbell has been talking up an oil processing tax for years and years to a response of deafening silence.  Not too surprising considering how afraid the legislature is of threatened vetoes from Governor Jindal Norquist.
But in closing the budget gap, legislators would have to do it while complying with the anti-tax pledge that Jindal signed in 2003 with Americans for Tax Reform, a national anti-tax group headed by Grover Norquist.

The group’s rules do allow tax increases, Norquist wrote in a letter Monday to Louisiana legislators who oppose the SAVE fund. “Removing tax credits or deductions while reducing the tax rate so that the total bill is revenue neutral is not a tax hike,” he wrote.
So we're left with the absurd situation of a budget crisis in a state where the legislators are opposed to revenue on general principle.  The umbilical pipeline will keep them well fed, though.

Meanwhile... Keep on frackin'!
After more than a year of volatile public hearings, courtroom duels and bureaucratic back and forth, plans to drill a controversial oil well in St. Tammany Parish are set to go forward.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday issued Helis Oil & Gas Co. a permit for its proposed 3.2-acre drilling pad in wetlands near Lakeshore High School north of Interstate 12 and east of La. 1088.

It was the final regulatory hurdle for the first phase of the company’s plan, a 13,000-foot-deep “exploratory” well. Phase two would involve drilling a milelong horizontal shaft and then using a method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to pull oil out of the ground. But that would require further approvals.

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