These issues were overarching themes in a column written by Mike Bayham and a response written by a reader named “Judith”.
In criticizing President Obama for his lack of mentioning the BP oil spill during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Bayham wrote “But there was no love to be found for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast in President Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address.“ and also stated, “Sure, the president found the time to curse the darkness of oil industry profits, but failed to use his annual big speech to light a candle about the need for the federal government to rebuild the Louisiana coastline, which had been chopped to shreds for decades to satisfy the nation’s energy needs and maritime commerce. “
These statements drew this response from Judith who wrote underneath Bayham’s column and said:
“We Louisianans have to take responsibility for giving oil and gas companies free rein to do whatever they wanted to extract from our land and water, but we did little to nothing to require them to minimize damage to the environment. Think of all the abandoned pipelines and wells around the state. You seem perfectly willing to let oil companies destroy our environment, but you want the federal government you love to hate to come in and restore it.
I don't absolve the feds of all responsibility, but the state bears its share, as do energy companies.
This has nothing to do with our being punished for the last presidential election. Although it may be to us, Louisiana is not the center of the universe to everybody else. Obama is president of all the states, and many people, including this Louisiana citizen, prefer that the problems with deep-water drilling that caused this tragedy be corrected before drilling is resumed in order to minimize the chances of another catastrophic spill and loss of life.
Because the state agencies involved (Office of Conservation, Natural Resources, etc), and the state legislature are owned by energy companies, we end up with little from those companies to make Louisiana a better place. Where does all the money go? Certainly not to an educational system that is a national embarrassment. We are at the bottom of the barrel on quality of life measures whether it's education or health.
The energy sector presents only about 17% of the jobs here, yet their political power is near 100% in the state. I cry no tears for this oligarchy.”
The rest of Bayham’s column can be found here.
True, President Obama did not mention BP oil spill and his failure is unquestionably reminiscent to the days of President George W. Bush who likewise neglected to refer to Katrina which said absence resulted in an angry reaction by this writer at the time.
Considering Bush’s neglect and the horrors brought upon us last year by the “BP war” it is simply and outright inexcusable that Obama failed to acknowledge that event which combined with the horrific damage caused by Katrina has had a debilitating impact on the region and the state.
But, Bayham is not the first, nor the only person in this state who believes that Obama has it out for Louisiana or is insensitive to its needs.
And Bayham is not the only person who believes that Louisiana has been unfairly harmed by the nation’s insatiable hunger for oil and the industry’s voracious appetitive for profits.
So, in my view, this debate is legitimate.
Also, interestingly, in many respects, as the focus moved from Katrina to BP, the table turned.
When Bush reigned, the comments rained on that Louisiana’s government under the former political leaders should not be so “whiny” and should pick itself up by its boot-straps and not depend upon the federal government or upon the Bush administration for support or for attention.
Now that President Obama is in the White House and on the hot seat, he is targeted for not caring enough for Louisiana and for engaging in policies and actions that are viewed by many in the state as callous disregard for its citizens.
In addition, after Katrina, attention turned upon the state’s incredible eroding wetlands which now have become the incredible oiled dirtied wetlands, post-BP incident. Many believe that Louisiana is subjugated to be the victim to the nation’s and the oil companies’ selfishness.
So, by Obama failing to even mention the BP incident in his State of the Union Address, now many Louisianans are questioning Obama’s commitment to the state and his motives. Likewise, as the state suffers from a job destroying drilling moratorium and its later sister, the “defacto”, it is ripe to debate whether we in Louisiana are inconsistent for blaming the oil industry and America for its thirst and dependency upon offshore drilling which certainly has torn up Louisiana’s land while at the same time we complain about the very unfortunate job loss caused by what appears to be an over-reaching drilling halt made worse by this state’s own addiction to the oil industry’s jobs.
Let the debates begin.
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