Foster Campbell: Louisiana should respond to climate change
The punishing heat wave in the western United States and heavy flooding in the northeast from Tropical Storm Elsa provide more evidence that the world’s climate is changing.
I think of Al Gore. The former U.S. senator and vice president held the first Congressional hearings on global warming in the 1970s. His 2007 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” offered a clear-cut message of the threat of climate catastrophe and won him a Nobel Peace Prize.
Gore’s public acclaim made him a threat to the special interests under pressure to change their climate-warming ways and the politicians who defended them.
Now we know from legal proceedings and independent reporting that fossil-fuel interests knew in the 1950s their products were warming the Earth. An ExxonMobil internal document in 1982 declared the science on climate change was “unanimous” and would cause “significant changes in the earth’s climate.”
But the oil industry publicly doubted its own science, much like Big Tobacco did when its research blamed smoking for cancer and heart disease. Exxon and other companies launched a systematic campaign to question the science of global warming and prevent meaningful action.
My home in Bossier Parish lies in the middle of the Haynesville Shale gas fields. As a landowner, state senator and utility regulator I have had a great deal of involvement with Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. It has provided tax revenue, good jobs and economic benefit. But I have seen firsthand the industry’s heavy hand on our political leadership.
In the early 1980s Gov. Dave Treen, a conservative Republican, proposed the Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy. CWEL was designed to address industry’s damage to our fragile coast with a tax on oil and gas produced offshore and processed in our state’s refineries and facilities.
In reply, industry and its allies, supporters of Treen when he ran in 1979, turned on him and helped defeat him for re-election in 1983.