Foster Campbell tells it like it is - Best Louisiana legislative update

FOSTER CAMPBELL
LOUISIANA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER
27 May 2015

Letters to the Editor
The Baton Rouge Advocate

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 wellbeing.

Week Six Legislative Update

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Week six of the 2015 regular legislative session begins with one bit of great news on the environmental front. HB 597 (Bishop, regarding environmental self audit privileges) was likely the worst environmental bill of the session. At last week's hearing of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Bishop withdrew his bill from the agenda. Given the late stage of the session and the pounding Bishop has taken from the Green Army, LEAN, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, the bill is likely dead for the session.

Legislative Alert – Please help to stop House Bill 597, the Louisiana Regulatory Compliance Escape Act

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May 18, 2015 Update - HB 597 appears to be dead for the 2015 legislative session. Congratulations and thanks to everyone for your help to keep this bad bill from going anywhere.

The Louisiana Regulatory Compliance Escape Act (our name for it) is the stinker bill of the 2015 legislative session. HB 597 by Representative Stuart Bishop of Lafayette is the latest attempt by industry to get around monitoring and enforcement of environmental standards. The bill would allow an industry to conduct a voluntary audit of compliance with environmental laws and regulations and would protect the industry from having to disclose any information during the audit. The proposed law further provides that no penalty can be imposed by a state entity for violations discovered during a voluntary environmental audit.

HB 597 prevents public agencies or citizens from finding out anything once a facility decides to conduct a voluntary audit and provides extended exemption from compliance with regulations or imposition of penalties.

Invitation to GreenArmy Lobby Day, Thursday, May 14, 2015

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All are invited to Green Army Legislative Lobby Day on Thursday, May 14. We will be at the Louisiana State Capitol on that day starting at 9:00 am. Green Army organizations will be doing table displays, will be presenting information on important legislation, and will be coordinating meetings with legislators. We will have copies of the GreenArmy legislative report card and bullet points on important bills that GreenArmy is supporting for this legislative session. We will be providing opportunities for Louisiana residents to meet with legislators at the State Capitol. All are invited to contact GreenArmy in advance to arrange meetings with legislators, or to just show up and show support.

Understanding the toxicity of oil dispersant mixtures, and the development of alternatives

Date: May 20, 2015
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Location: UL Mouton Hall, Rm 117, Johnston St. & E. St. Mary Blvd. Lafayette, LA.
Enter north door of Mouton Hall. Room 117 is on the left.

In this seminar scientists will present published research regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The effects of oil-dispersant mixtures on aquatic life and research into bacteria-based dispersants will be discussed. A brief history of dispersants and the impacts of oil and dispersants in near-shore environments will also be given. Q & A period and an audience input session will follow the presentations.

Presenters:
Dr. Christopher Green (LSU AgCenter)
Dr. Andrew Nyman (LSU AgCenter)
Dr. Emily Maung-Douglass (Louisiana Sea Grant/LSU)

Legislative Update Apr 26, 2015

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NOTES FROM THE SESSION:

In more than 30 years of lobbying I have never seen a legislative session quite like the one that began on April 13th. It is an odd year, 2015, which means a shortened fiscal session limited to a sixty day time span during which the legislature cannot convene more than 45 days. This session must end no later than June 13th.

Louisiana’s constitution allows legislators to introduce up to five bills on any topic, but given the state’s dire fiscal situation—surely the worst since 1987 and possibly, with a $1.6-$1.8 billion deficit to be closed, the worst in modern times—money issues are clearly foremost in the minds of legislators. Further complicating matters, Louisiana legislators, except for those who are term limited, face reelection this fall.

And finally, with more power and authority vested in him than the governor of any other state, Governor Jindal has all but checked out to focus his attention on a presumed bid for the White House. Jindal’s parting words to legislators on the opening day of the session were, “Good Luck.” As if his absence were not problematic enough, Jindal has made it clear that he will veto any measure that is not revenue neutral. The legislature, then, can raise taxes or fees, but they must be offset with tax and/or fee reductions elsewhere. If this holds it can only mean further cuts in government programs that many people believe cannot sustain further cuts, especially in the fields of higher education and health care.

The Attack on Residential Solar in the 2015 Louisiana Legislative Session

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The attack on tax credits for residential solar installations in Louisiana continues in earnest with the 2015 legislative session which started on April 13. Armed with the State’s self inflicted $1.6B budget crisis in addition to the usual arguments, the foes of solar have come up with a litany of bills to be heard in this coming legislative session. No mercy is shown the Louisiana solar industry which pushed for passage of a bill in the 2013 legislative session that provided an orderly phase out of solar tax credits by end of 2017. The solar industry in Louisiana was the only industry to push a bill for voluntary phase out of tax credits. The industry put forward an orderly phase out that would allow time for manufacturers, suppliers and installers to adjust to doing business without State tax credits. The legislation was passed but you don’t hear the solar industry getting any credit for trying to do it the right way.

Green Army Event at the Louisiana State Capitol on Sat, April 11, noon to 3 pm.

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The Green Army holds its second annual Legislative Event at the Louisiana State Captitol on Saturday, April 11, 2015. The event will feature speakers from citizens groups and communities affected by air and water pollution. The event keynote speaker will be Lt. General Russell Honore, US Army Ret. We will have live music and other attractions TBA.

Speakers will address prominent Green Army issues such as the proposed open burn of munitions at Camp Minden, Bayou Corne update, Mossville update, fracking in St. Tammany, toxic air emissions in St. Rose, the RAM coal terminal in Plaquemines Parish, and an update from John Barry on the coastal lawsuits. Gen Honore will address the Green Army agenda for this legislative session.

Vans are available to transport people from New Orleans and from Lafayette. Contact for the New Orleans van is the LA Bucket Brigade office at 504-484-3433. Contact for the Lafayette van is by email to hrmartin2sc@gmail.com or phone at 337-298-8380.

Email for further information is Woody Martin, Chapter Chair at: hrmartin2sc@gmail.com

Please come out and support this event.

Forests Not Fuel - Statement to the Press, Mar 25, 2015

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Good morning, I am Haywood Martin, Chair of Sierra Club in Louisiana. I am here because I am concerned about destruction of native forests in the southeast and in Louisiana.

Misdirected renewable energy policies both here in the US and in Europe treat biomass, including the burning of trees, as renewable energy just like solar and wind. With billions of dollars of government subsidies available, major European utility companies have been converting coal burning power plants to wood, even though there is mounting scientific evidence that burning trees for electricity releases more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal. In a rush to find much-needed alternatives to fossil fuels, any evidence that burning wood might not make economic sense and that it is destroying forests, has been largely ignored.

Europe is currently at the forefront of this rush to burn. They are running power plants previously fueled with coal by importing large quantities of wood from the US. This has led to an explosion of new facilities here in the South that are turning our forests into wood pellets and exporting them across the Atlantic. Currently, the Southern US is the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets. Wood pellet exports to Europe from the South are in the millions of tons per year and are increasing as new facilities come on line. We’ve seen aggressive logging in native forests in NC and Virginia, and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen here in Louisiana.

Public Hearing on Toxic Waste Transfer Station

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Despite St. Martin Parish Council’s recent rejection of a rezoning request from F.A.S. Environmental Services the company is applying for a permit to build a transfer station for produced waters and fracking waste in the Atchafalaya Basin. According to the company’s permit application with DNR, F.A.S. expects to handle an average of 175,000 barrels of exploration and production (E&P) waste each month. The company estimates 99 percent will be “produced water” or waste from processes ranging from conventional drilling to hydraulic fracturing. If approved, the permit also would allow the company “to accept other types of waste, such as completion fluids, freshwater, rainwater, washout water, washout pit water, gas plant water liquids, pipeline wastewater and commercial facility waste.” The application also states that the waste can include or create hydrogen sulfide gas which is poisonous and is known for its rotten egg smell. The company operates an injection well 1.75 miles from the proposed transfer station.

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