FOSTER CAMPBELL: Letter to Natchitoches Parish

Louisiana Should Respond to Climate Change

The punishing heat wave in the western United States and heavy flooding in the Northeast from Tropical Storm Elsa provide more evidence that the world’s climate is changing.

I think of Al Gore. The former U.S. senator and Vice President held the first Congressional hearings on global warming in the 1970s. His 2007 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, offered a clear-cut message of the threat of climate catastrophe and won him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Gore’s public acclaim made him a threat to the special interests under pressure to change their climate-warming ways and the politicians who defended them.

Now we know from legal proceedings and independent reporting that fossil-fuel interests knew in the 1950s their products were warming the Earth. An ExxonMobil internal document in 1982 declared the science on climate change was “unanimous” and would cause “significant changes in the earth’s climate.”

But the oil industry publicly doubted its own science, much like Big Tobacco did when its research blamed smoking for cancer and heart disease. Exxon and other companies launched a systematic campaign to question the science of global warming and prevent meaningful action.

My home in Bossier Parish lies in the middle of the Haynesville Shale gas fields. As a landowner, state senator and utility regulator I have had a great deal of involvement with Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. It has provided tax revenue, good jobs and economic benefit. But I have seen firsthand the industry’s heavy hand on our political leadership.

In the early 1980s Governor Dave Treen, a conservative Republican, proposed the Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy. CWEL was designed to address industry’s damage to our fragile coast with a tax on oil and gas produced offshore and processed in our state’s refineries and facilities.

In reply, industry and its allies, supporters of Treen when he ran in 1979, turned on him and helped defeat him for re-election in 1983.

Oil representatives in the 1990s similarly rejected my plan to modernize Louisiana’s 1920s system of taxing oil and gas. I said taxing only the oil and gas produced in Louisiana was wrong when far greater volumes of hydrocarbons produced offshore but processed in Louisiana were untaxed.

These hard lessons have convinced me that Louisiana suffers from the Resource Curse. The phrase refers to a nation (or state, in my example) with its wealth concentrated in a few industries. The industries develop enough influence and power to undercut the public interest and bend the government to their will.

For Louisiana, the Resource Curse helps explain why our state finishes poorly in measures of economic wellbeing despite our fossil-fuel resources, forests, rich soils and assets like the Mississippi River.

At the Public Service Commission, I have urged Louisiana electric companies to favor energy efficiency and solar and wind power. This has proved a challenge due to our abundant natural gas, cheap lignite coal and low rates for electricity. Early in my tenure I promoted power from offshore wind and rooftop solar.

The utilities, confident of backing from other PSC members, ignored wind and actively opposed rooftop solar.

In our last debate over rooftop solar I predicted the utilities would begin building their own solar plants to replace some of their fossil-fuel generation.

That is where we are headed. We are an energy state, not just an oil and gas state. We have a task force studying climate change and are promoting offshore wind. Our coastal industries are helping to build a wind-power sector. Utilities are investing in renewables.

Al Gore was right on climate. Louisiana is now recognizing that it is vulnerable to rising seas and damaging storms. We can fight climate change, develop new industries and jobs, and watch our state prosper. It is not too late.

13 thoughts on “FOSTER CAMPBELL: Letter to Natchitoches Parish

  1. Foster Campbell, if you believe anything that Al Gore said, then you are being used as a “Useful idiot”

  2. Talk about being hypocritical! Using Al Gore as an example for the rest of us to follow.

    Typical politician – Rules for thee, but not for me.

    From Snopes, hardly a conservative-leaning fact finder:

    “Associated Press reported that their own review of bills indicated that the Gores’ Nashville household used more than 12 times the average for a typical household in that area), but the basic gist of the claim — that the Gores’ Nashville residence consumed a larger proportion of energy than the average American home — was true.
    The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh-guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year.”

  3. What a hypocrite!! You have enriched yourself on the oil and gas industry. Never voted for you and never will. You are in favor of bringing in wind power from OKLAHOMA at INCREASED rates to Louisianans. You are supposed to look at for Louisiana citizen. Do your job you hypocrite.

  4. Yes we are experiencing many disasters- but are they natural disasters from the mighty hand of our God or from some man made cause?
    There are many examples in the Bible that tell us God is in control of the weather. Here are a few examples:
    From Christian The Bible teaches us that God can control the weather and send deadly storms. Psalms 148:8 ; declares that storms do His bidding. Jonah 1:4 ; It was the Lord who sent out a great wind into the sea. The Book of job declares “severe weather had killed Job’s sheep, his servants and all 10 of his children. The Lord made clear that His control over nature and His ultimate purposes are to be trusted. Job 37:13 declares that God sometimes brings storms to punish people. This brings to mind the story of Noah as well. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries – in whirlwind and storm is His way. He dries up all the rivers. Drought is frequently discussed as brought on by God as well as earhtquakes.
    From Ezekiel 21:3-5 states: Hear the word of the Lord! you should say to the southern forest. Thus say the Lord God; See! I am kindling a fire in you that shall devour all trees, the green as well as the dry. The blazing flame shall not be quenched, but from south and north, every face shall be scorched by it. Everyone shall see that I the Lord have kindled it, and it shall not be quenched .
    Lastly Mark 4:37-41 It happened that a bad squall blew up. The waves were breaking over the boat, and it began to ship water badly. Jesus was in the stern through it all, sound asleep on a cushion. Finally, they woke Him and said to Him: ‘Teacher, does it not matter to you that we are going to drown?’ ……………………….He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea” “Quiet! Be still! The wind fell off and everything grew calm. They kept saying to one another :Who can this be that the wind and sea obey Him?”

  5. Though the naysayers won’t admit it, Commissioner Campbell is essentially correct, and plenty of evidence exists to back him up. Ad hominem attacks are simply irrelevant.

    • And there are plenty of scientists that have a contrary view with evidence that doesn’t. There is no question that there is climate change BUT there is plenty of evidence that man and his processes are not the cause nor can man change it.

  6. A phony who made a fortune off of oil and gas because of his ability to monetize his so called public service….what a farce. He wasn’t talking this lunacy when he was recently running for the PSC. Of course the D behind his name should have told you everything you needed to know about this clown.

  7. The “dark side”?! Who do you think runs this country – the Red Elephant Club? The Blue Donkey Club? Wrong!! Corporate America runs this country. Big industries donate to both clubs every election cycle – don’t kid yourself. While we call each other names and bully one another – like children on the playground – big business continues to rake in the profits. That is why they are in business – not for voter/taxpayer well fair – to make as much money as they can as fast as they can and for as long as they can. They will layoff hundreds of hard-working Americans to keep their profits and stock market shares high. Personally I’m registered unaffiliated – let the Red Elephants and Blue Donkeys guess how I might vote. I’m a free-thinker. You want to shake up DC – keep those politicians guessing -register unaffiliated.

  8. Ridiculous! This guy has drunk the Democratic Kool-aid! Al Gore is a joke. Woe be to Natchitoches for embracing this nonsense!

  9. I guess you invented the internet too. Nobody listens to you anymore old man. You are an obsolete politician that has gotten your fringe benefits from the state long enough. You contribute more to global warming with your enormous herd of cattle who fart into the atmosphere. Stay in your own lane old man.

  10. Here we go again, only Foster and his buddies can save us. I call BS let’s see this damning document.

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