“I’m signing today an executive order to supercharge our administration ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change,” said President Biden at his January 27th speech on environmental policy.
Combating the effects of climate change was a major component of the Biden-Harris campaign, and they’ve hit the ground running.
Notating the severity of this need, President Biden spouts a litany of events that took place over the past year, from the massive destruction of fires across the west coast to the record number of hurricanes that wrecked the tropics and southern border.
“Even as our Nation emerges from profound public health and economic crises born of a pandemic, we face a climate crisis that threatens our people and communities, public health and economy, and starkly, our ability to live on planet Earth,” stated President Biden.
While navigating from one point to the next, President Biden references how the plan is to “stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters” and to seek “environmental justice for fence-line communities” such as “Cancer Alley Louisiana.”
Needless to say, a reduction to the oil and gas industry adequately grabs the attention of Louisiana families.
However, not everyone is on the same page concerning this subject.
Fenceline communities that reside in, or around, Cancer Alley, are mostly working class and poor African American families.
Cancer Alley is known as the stretch of land housing petrochemical plants along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Their location in reference to these plants is what puts them in harm's way on a daily basis, being constantly surrounded by the harmful emissions released into the air.
“With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color - so-called ‘fenceline communities’ - especially those communities - brown, black, Native Americans, poor whites,” said President Biden.
According to President Biden, uplifting fenceline communities strengthens the nation and increases everyone’s overall health.
With the possibility of revitalization of one community, comes feelings of uncertainty for oil and gas families, unsure of what’s to come in the future.
Dr. David Dismukes, Professor and Executive Director at the Center for Energy Studies at LSU, shines some light on what this could mean for Louisiana residents.
“I think on a negative note, it certainly challenges potential, as well as ongoing, economic activity where people wind up earning their incomes from,"said Dr. Dismukes when asked about how this aggressive approach might affect Louisiana families, "So the cancellation of the Excel Pipeline is going to eliminate probably somewhere around 11,000 plus jobs directly associated with that pipeline."
Not only are current jobs at risk, but the potential for job growth as well. While the order keeps current oil and gas leases in play, new leases signed for the current year are on pause.
“What’s most upsetting about this is that while I think everyone, at least reasonable people, understood and expected that the new administration would probably take steps to aggressively go after issues associated with climate change; A, this was a lot faster than a lot of people anticipated, and B, is there was no counter balance with this," stated Dr. Dismukes.
A potential counter measure could be the federal government proposing to infiltrate the Louisiana economy with billions in funds due to the lost opportunities.
While much of this information is hitting Louisianians abruptly, exactly how these mandates will be carried out are unknown. General guidelines have been released, but there are no concrete answers as to how, or when, this transition will take place, and who will be most greatly affected.
“There are clearly opportunities for moving some of that workforce into an alternative workforce, but the path to that is not clear. The scale and scope of what that support may be’s not very clear,” commented Dr. Dismukes when asked if he thought there are any positives that could result from this order.
Additionally, changing to cleaner energy is predicted to have reversing effects on our ever eroding coastline, although the progress of such changes take a considerable amount of time.
With the Executive Order being signed just a week ago, the mandates have yet to fully unfold. Stay tuned to Tiger TV for updates.