Legislative Report

Election Update, Candidates We Support

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I hope that Sierra Club members, supporters and friends know by now that Sierra Club Delta Chapter in Louisiana has officially endorsed Foster Campbell for US Senate. This official endorsement has the blessing of Sierra Club’s national political campaign and it means that the proposed endorsement has been through a months long process of questionnaires to candidates and evaluation for approval.

We believe Foster Campbell because of his experience as State Representative, State Senator and Public Service Commissioner is absolutely the best qualified candidate. He has stood up for regular people and has fought for clean energy and fair taxation of industry in his time in government. But Foster needs our help. The campaign critically needs people now to be making phone calls or walking the street for him. If you have a few hours you could give for the effort the campaign can set you up in your own home to make calls to a list that shows up on your computer. Or you could go to a campaign office and make calls for him. When Sierra Club gives an endorsement we are also saying that we will actively help. This is to ask you to please contact the Foster Campbell campaign and sign up to help. You can call them at 225-636-2828 or send an email with your name and phone number to foster@fostercampbell2016.com.

A very important race is shaping up for the Louisiana Supreme Court in the district representing Lafayette, Acadia, Vermilion, St. Landry, Avoyelles, Jefferson Davis, Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes. Our choice is Jimmy Genovese. His opponent is Mary Castle who is getting big money and support from big industry including oil and gas, chemicals and the Koch Bros funded AFP. We can expect to see millions of "dark" dollars pumped into this race from little known, out of state entities in the two or so weeks leading up to the race. In recent years we have seen this strategy implemented to great effect by corporate interests, the most prominent example being the millions of dollars injected into a West Virginia supreme court race with the goal of reversing one previous court decision. There is a great deal at stake on this one. We need to do everything we can to support Jimmy Genovese for State Supreme Court. For more info you can go to http://www.judgegenovese.com/ OR his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JudgeGenovese/

Sierra Club Endorses Foster Campbell for US Senate from Louisiana

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Sierra Club Delta Chapter announces its endorsement of Foster Campbell for US Senate from Louisiana. We have known Foster Campbell for years as an advocate for clean energy and a fighter for fairness in energy taxation in Louisiana. We have watched his advocacy on the Louisiana Public Service Commission for Renewable Energy, fair treatment for residential and commercial solar users and for Energy Efficiency as the cleanest and cheapest way to make more electric energy available. He has been steadfast in defending the right of nonprofit groups and public citizens to be heard in LPSC hearings and proceedings. Campbell is the only Louisiana US Senate candidate to acknowledge human caused global climate change.

Foster Campbell has consistently fought in the interest of regular people and rate payers for affordable clean energy and has shown that he is not a paid servant of the big utilities and energy companies. No other candidate can match his record of public service and experience. We think he will do an excellent job as a US Senator representing the interest of regular people in our state on the national stage in Washington. We request and urge your vote and support for Foster Campbell for US Senator.

Between now and November 8 is a crucial time for us to show support for Foster Campbell. Please spread the word with your friends and neighbors.. If you want to volunteer with the Campaign be sure and let them know that you are a Sierra Club member. You can contact the Campaign at http://www.fostercampbell2016.com/

Thank you,
Haywood "Woody" Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter

Sierra Club Delta Chapter State Legislative Summary Update, Jun 8, 2016

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The 2016 Regular Session of the Louisiana State Legislature adjourned on June 6 at 6 pm and the Special Session convened at 6:30 pm to continue action on state fiscal issues. The end of the regular session concludes action on bills that were part of The Green Army and Sierra Club legislative agenda. Here is a recap of Sierra Club and Green Army priority bills and their legislative outcomes:

HB 11 by Rep Gene Reynolds to ban open burning of waste munitions met with such strong industry opposition that the sponsor turned it into a negotiated study resolution (HCR 118) which requested LDEQ air sampling and a citizen’s dialog committee. Legislative hearings on the bill were successful in putting the principal offender, Clean Harbors Inc, on the hot seat to explain why they conduct open burns when closed vessel incineration would give much better control air emissions. We will have to check on the LDEQ air sampling and watch what happens with the dialog committee.

Delta Chapter State Legislative Update, May 27, 2016

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The 2016 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature winds down to adjournment on June 6 at 6 pm. There were several developments with Green Army bills this past week.

Rep Bouie’s HB 371 to prohibit placing schools on toxic waste sites made it out of House Ed Committee but in the process got referred to House Natural Resources where all knew it would surely meet its end in that very unfriendly committee. The bill was scheduled as the only bill to be heard in HNR&E last week and then the meeting was cancelled. We believe the sponsor, Rep Joe Bouie never really wanted to fight for the bill and so he allowed its demise.

HB 469, the fenceline monitoring bill by Rep Connick went down to a much more noble defeat by vote on the house floor, losing 24/65 after a hard fight. The bill is now in part resurrected by the introduction by Rep Connick of House Resolution 186. The resolution requests LDEQ to study the feasibility of sharing internal real-time emissions data from certain facilities with first responders and to report to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment. The resolution is scheduled for House floor debate on June 1. While being only a shadow of the original bill which would have required real time monitoring and public notification where polluting industries are adjoined by residential neighborhoods, this resolution is the “something” which is better than nothing and will receive our support.

We note some success as an outcome of the fight for HB 11 to ban open burning of waste munitions. That is that even though the bill could not pass, it has been turned into a study resolution, HCR 118. And LDEQ has already agreed in meetings with Green Army representatives to closely monitor air emissions from burn sites at Colfax and Marrero.

Delta Chapter State Legislative Update, May 20, 2016

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There has been plenty of action in the Louisiana Legislature for Green Army and Sierra Club this week of May 16 thru 20.

Our biggest effort this week went into Rep Connick’s HB 469 to require fenceline air monitoring for industrial facilities next to residential communities. The bill had been amended down to affect only one industry (Vertex oil recycler) and still met with full on industry opposition from O&G, chemical industry, and LABI (business and industry) lobbyists. They were all around for the House floor vote on Tuesday where this much reduced bill went down to defeat 24/65. Industry in Louisiana clearly does not want any air quality monitoring going on near their facilities. Rep Connick did a great job in pushing this bill as far as possible and he may still try to introduce a relevant study resolution.

Louisiana Legislative Update, May 11, 2016

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We are now in week 8 of the 11 week regular session of the Louisiana legislature. Green Army has been working hard on our priority bills. Three of them came up in House Natural Resources and Environment (HNR&E) Committee today, May 11.

The updates on our priority bills are as follows:

HB 11 is Gene Reynolds bill to ban the open burning of munitions and waste explosives in Louisiana. The bill was amended several times and passed out of HNR&E committee on a close vote of 9/8. After committee passage the bill encountered tough pushback from industry. With chances of passage on the House floor not good, Rep Gene Reynolds converted the bill into a resolution to “study conditions present when munitions are burned for destruction.” The resolution requires LDEQ to study the issue. The company, Safe Harbors, which has conducted the burns made a statement in committee that they are looking into more advanced technology with which to conduct munitions burns.

State Legislative Update May 5, 2016 and Action Alert

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May 5, 2016 Update

House floor votes on HB 11 by Rep Gene Reynolds and HB 469 by Rep Paul Connick have been put off until this coming week, possibly as early as Monday, May 9. Please continue to contact state representatives, especially the ones who represent you in your district and nearby districts. Urge them to vote FOR HB 11 and HB 469. See details in my May 1 post here. Thanks for whatever you can do to help.

May 1, 2016 Post

It was an eventful week for the Green legislative agenda at the Louisiana legislature this past week. Amazingly we passed two of our three GreenArmy bills out of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee (HNR&E).

HB 11 is Gene Reynolds bill to ban the open burning of munitions and waste explosives in Louisiana. The bill was amended to allow the military or state police to open burn waste explosives, effectively prohibiting only private companies or individuals. The bill passed out of the committee on a close vote of 9/8.

HB 469 by Paul Connick requiring fenceline air monitoring for industries located next to residential neighborhoods was amended to only cover those industries which have had three air permit violations in a 24 month period, the so called “bad actors.” Rep Connick did a great job of working the bill and it passed out of HNR&E on a vote of 17/1. Both HB 11 and HB 469 now head to the House for a floor vote.

The one of our bills that did not make it was HB 553 by Denise Marcelle to limit industrial pumping from the Southern Hills aquifer under Baton Rouge and to change the makeup of the management board to limit industry influence. The limitation of industry representation seemed to be what rankled the committee and it was stopped by a negative vote of the committee. So this bill will not proceed in this legislative session but we will bring it back next year in some form that may be more agreeable to the committee.

Action this coming week

Our two bills that passed HNR&E Committee this past week will be up for floor vote on Wed, May 4. We think there will be moves by industry against both bills in the House and we are asking for you to make calls to the people who represent you in the Louisiana House of Representatives. You can find contact info for your state representatives by going to this link and selecting your Parish: http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Reps/H_Reps_ByParish.aspx

When you call, just identify yourself, where you live and tell the staff person that you want the Representative to vote for HB 11 by Gene Reynolds to prohibit open burning of waste explosives in Louisiana. And tell the staff person that you want the Representative to vote for HB 469 by Paul Connick to require fenceline air monitoring for industrial “bad actors.”

The following points of information can be used if needed to strengthen your position:

State Legislative Action Update, Apr 24, 2016

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Apr 24, 2016 Update – Delta Chapter Legislative Action

First of all thank you for your calls and emails last week to legislators on the House Municipal Committee to stop HB 192, the plastic bag bill. Your efforts helped and the committee stopped this bill in its first hearing.

This coming week we will see three Green Army and Delta Chapter supported bills come up for hearing in House Natural Resources and Environment Committee on Wednesday, April 27. We are asking you to make calls and send emails to legislators on the committee starting Monday morning so they get the message before the 9:30 am hearing on Wednesday that there is lots of citizen support for the bills. The bills are as follows:

1) HB 11 by Rep Gene Reynolds of Minden prohibits the open burning of munitions and waste explosives. The bill would prevent inefficient and polluting open burns of explosives.

2) HB 469 by Rep Paul Connick of Marrero requires fence-line air monitoring systems for certain industrial facilities where air pollution threatens nearby communities. The technology for constant air quality monitoring has greatly improved. We want the technology to be used to protect fence-line communities impacted by heavy industry.

3) HB 553 by Rep Denise Marcelle of Baton Rouge designates five parishes (EBR, WBR, E. Feliciana, West Feliciana, & Pointe Coupee) as “critical areas of ground water concern,” limits conflict of interest on the part of members of the regulating commission, and limits large industrial ground water withdrawals in order to protect the resource. This will slow down the intrusion of salt water into the Southern Hills aquifer.

When you call the office of a member of the HNR&E Committee you should identify yourself, give a phone number and tell them where you live in Louisiana. Most of the time you will just be leaving a message with the staff person or on an answering machine. You can just say I support HB11, HB 469 and HB 553. If you are asked why you support the bills you can just use the words above that briefly describe each bill.

Contacts for members of the HNR&E Committee are at this link: http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Cmtes/NaturalResources.aspx

You can read the bills by typing in each bill number at this link:
http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillSearch.aspx?sid=current

State Legislative Action Update, Apr 15, 2016

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State Legislative Action Update
Apr 15, 2016

On Wednesday, April 13 the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee (HNR&E) heard three bills from Representative Bobby Carter that are of particular interest to the environmental community. They are HB 526, 527, 528. These three bills propose to protect our state’s groundwater from large withdrawals for industry and protect our Scenic Rivers from withdrawals for fracking. Unfortunately none of these three bills made it out of the very pro industry committee. The good news is that there does appear to be pretty good bipartisan support for our Louisiana Scenic Rivers. And there is a reasonably good cooperation from LDWF under current rules on regulating withdrawal of large quantities of water from Scenic Rivers for fracking.

On Thursday April 14 The House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs was scheduled to hear HB 192 by Rep Paul Hollis. This is a dangerous bill seeking to deprive local communities of the option to prohibit plastic bags. But this is not just about plastic bags. it is about local options to prohibit anything including fracking and other industrial insults.
The night before the hearing we found out that HB 192 was pulled from the committee agenda and would not be considered.

GreenARMY Legislative Lobby Days, April 20 and May 24, 2016 - Updated

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GreenARMY
STATE LEGISLATIVE LOBBY DAYS
Wednesdays, April 20 and May 24, 2016

The Green Army is a coalition of Environmental and Community Groups in Louisiana fighting for Clean Air and Water. We are holding Citizens Lobby days at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge on April 20 and May 24, 2016. Citizen lobbyists will have the opportunity to meet with legislators to discuss their concerns and legislation.

Wednesday, April 20 we will meet at the capitol starting at 9:00 am. You can find us at one of the tables in the downstairs cafeteria. We will have information about legislation we are supporting. We will go to the House Natural Resources Committee hearing in Committee room 4 for the hearing which will start at 9:30 am. On May 24 we will look in on house and senate floor votes and visit with legislators. To sign up for a meeting with your legislator or for further information you can contact: Margie Vicknair-Pray, Margie.vicknair-pray@sierraclub.org

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