Monday, December 26, 2005

An article in today's Times Picayune brings up some important points:

Louisiana, after all, saw 649,138 residents displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, compared with 110,000 in Mississippi.

The article also asks:

How is it that Louisiana, which had nearly three times as many homes destroyed as the three other hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast states combined, is getting no more than 54 percent of emergency block grants approved by Congress this week?

These are important points to remember whenever Louisiana officials are accused of being greedy in their aid requests, esp. in comparison with Mississippi. Not that La. should get into competition for aid with Miss., but combine the greater damage here with the cost of rebuilt levees and coastal restoration; and of course Louisiana's total request will be greater than Mississippi's.

However, I don't believe that now is the time to be emphasizing those or some other points-- offshore oil and gas activities contribute to coastal erosion, the cost of Coast 2050 (to restore the state's coast) will be about the same as Boston's Big Dig, etc. That should all be brought up in discussions of how much aid La. should get, after La.'s won the fight over whether it deserves federal aid.

The points La.'s officials and supporters need to make repeatedly (think of Bush and 9/11) are that the federal government bears at least some of the responsibility for the flooding in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish and that if La. received an equitable share of the offshore oil and gas revenue it produces, it would need much less federal aid. Next time Mary Landrieu is on Hardball she needs to keep saying, "You know Chris, in a recent year, Wyoming received $239M out of $569M in mineral revenues generated on federal lands within its borders, yet in the same year, La. only received $18M out f $3.8B in federal revenues generated in its offshore waters. That's less than 1/2 of 1% compared to 50%." She needs to keep saying that (like a Bush supporter saying 9/11 changed everything) when asked about the size of the state's aid request. If the host (or another guest) points out that offshore revenue is always treated differently, she need merely point out that the offshore boundary begins at 12mi. for states like Florida and Texas, 3mi. for La. That's it, lights out, fight's over.

We could land a classic 1-2-3 combination: left jab--the federal government bears some responsibility for the damage to the New Orleans area, right cross--we get 1/2 of 1% of our offshore mineral revenue compared to the 50% that inland states get, left hook-- our offshore boundary starts at 3mi. compared to 12mi. for some other states. Instead, we only occasionally throw the left jab. We throw it weakly at that.

Zing! Right on the money.
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