Political & Legislative

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

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

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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.

Louisiana Election for Governor - Comparison of Records on the Environment

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Sierra Club Delta Chapter in Louisiana would like for members and friends to know what a comparison of records on the environment between the two candidates for governor looks like. So we have put together this brief description of recent performance.

David Vitter scored 0% on the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) National Environmental Scorecard for 2014. His lifetime score is 5%. In the LCV Senate Special Edition, Feb 2015, David Vitter voted wrong on every legislative issue including Requiring Tar Sands Companies to Pay for Spills, Regulation of Toxic Tar Sands Byproducts, Clean Air Protections for communities living downwind of coal fired power plants, Recognition of Climate Science, Drilling on Public Lands, Exemption of Fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. http://www.lcv.org/assets/pdf/special-edition-scorecard.pdf

And on issues specific to Louisiana, a few examples:

Environmental Forum for Lafayette City-Parish Presidential Candidates

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Acadian Group of the Sierra Club will host an ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM for Candidates for Lafayette City-Parish President on Thursday, Oct 1st. You can go to this link for a list of questions which we have posed to the Candidates: http://acadiansierra.blogspot.com/2015/08/below-are-listed-acadian-group...

Time & Location: 6:30pm; Thursday, October 1, 2015 at the Lafayette Public Library, 301 W. Congress Street in Downtown Lafayette, Louisiana.

Optional RSVP for this event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1893278054231019/

Louisiana Legislative Update, Status of Environmental Bills from the 2015 Session

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Here is a rundown on some of the bills on environmental issues that were considered during the Louisiana legislative session that ended on June 11, 2015. Despite this being a "fiscal" session and all the attention given to the state's fiscal deficit there were these notable efforts on the environmental front. Sierra Club and allies were actively working for the environment and public health on these issues.

HB 180 by Rep Joe Bouie of New Orleans is a Green Army supported bill that would have prohibited the construction of any pre-K through 12th grade school on property formerly used for the disposal, storage, or deposition of sewage sludge, solid waste, hazardous waste, or oilfield waste. The bill sponsors hoped the bill would become law in time to stop the planned construction of a school on the old Clio Street/Silver City Dump in New Orleans. Monique Harden and with technical help from Wilma Subra of LEAN did a great job of shepherding the bill through successful votes in House Education Committee and the House floor. The bill stalled in Senate Education Committee over concerns that the bill would apply too broadly statewide. The bill was opposed by the New Orleans Recovery School District, Louisiana contractors and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Update On Oct 21, 2015 it was announced that the Recovery School District (RSD) has cancelled its controversial plan to land bank the Cohen High School building and relocate the students, teachers, and staff to a proposed new school on a portion of the Clio Street/Silver City Dump, where the Booker T. Washington School (BTW) was built
in the 1940s. This is a 180 degree turn of events which was forced by the opposition of Walter L Cohen school alumni and many local citizens groups including Sierra Club. This was the reason for proposing HB 180 and represents a victory of citizens over an unresponsive school system bureaucracy. See the full statement attached to this legislative report.

Call State Senators, ask them to vote NO on HCR 29 on Senate floor - Update

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HCR 29 tells USEPA to withdraw proposed guidelines for reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel fired power plants and urges the Louisiana governor and state attorney general to take legal action to prevent the guidelines from being implemented. Carbon emissions have been shown to be the primary cause of global warming and climate change. Louisiana is one of the states most vulnerable to catastrophic storms and land loss due to the combination of subsidence and sea level rise. Louisiana has excellent potential for re-allocating dirty electric power generation to clean sources including natural gas, renewable energy including wind and solar, and energy efficiency. Movement toward clean energy would create jobs and keep energy investment dollars in the state. Louisiana has a dynamic economy that could enable the state to be a leader in the transition to clean energy. But HCR 29 says that Louisiana wants nothing to do with it. We think this resolution is a bad idea.

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.

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