Louisiana Legislature Early Update, Feb 9 2016, Sign up for Legislative Action List

State Capital w tree

Friends of the environment and public health in Louisiana are looking forward to another eventful year in the Louisiana legislature. The election of John Bel Edwards as governor was a very hopeful sign but his loss of the speakership of the house means potentially hostile chairs and members in many legislative committees that are important to our progress. So we will have to work for good bills and work against some bad bills that we expect to see. The regular session of the 2016 legislature is where we will see bills of concern to us. That session starts Monday, March 14.

Sierra Club Delta Chapter will be working with the Green Army to push bills to protect clean air, clean water and public health, especially from industrial facilities located near Louisiana communities. And we will support good bills like the one already introduced by Rep Gene Reynolds that prohibits the open burning of munitions and waste explosives.

At the same time we will have to play defense against bills generated by lobbyists for big industry and by out of state groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which are aggressive and industry friendly. They seek to remove our protections for clean air, clean water and public health. Examples of such bills pushed in other states that we will have to watch for are 1) bills hostile to limiting carbon emissions from industries and electric generation facilities, 2) state level prohibitions on the freedom of local communities to ban fracking, 3) further cutbacks in tax rebates for clean energy and residential solar installations, and 4) bills that limit our ability to challenge pollutant discharge permits issued by state agencies.

Last year with your help we were able to stop a bill (HB 597) in the Louisiana legislature that would have let industrial facilities do a self audit and develop a clean-up plan without public knowledge or input. Any documents associated with the self-audit would not have been available as public information. This was a clear affront to the public’s right to know and we took immediate action to mount opposition to the bill. We want to continue the good work we did on this and other proposed legislation but we need your help.

This is a call for Sierra Club members, friends and supporters in Louisiana to volunteer to be on our Sierra Club/Green Army legislative action team. We will need you to call and email legislators at critical times, to send opinion pieces and letters to the editor of local newspapers and to go with us to visit legislators in local districts so that they can understand our issues and know we are watching how they vote. We have a new opportunity in Louisiana with a governor who will listen to our positions and who may support us. But he needs for legislators to hear from their constituents (that’s us) on critical issues related to the environment and public health. Please sign on to our legislative action list by sending an email to me at hrmartin2sc@gmail.com. Please put “Action List” in the subject line.

Thanks for your willingness to help defend clean air, clean water and public health in Louisiana. We will keep you updated as the legislative session proceeds.

Haywood “Woody” Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter

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