For many, Louisiana’s environmental concerns start at the coast. Certainly, all four of the main gubernatorial candidates agree it’s a crucial issue.
“For our very survival, one of those key challenges is protecting and restoring and stabilizing the coast,” David Vitter says.
Jay Dardenne goes further.
“There is no greater threat to Louisiana than the loss of our coastline. It affects Shreveport and Chicago as much as it does Chackbay and other places along the coast.”
“It threatens many things that are special about Louisiana, including our fisheries, our wildlife, tourism, oil and gas,” John Bel Edwards elaborates.
Scott Angelle insists it goes beyond partisan politics.
“Coastal restoration doesn’t affect Republicans and Democrats and independents differently. It affects us all.”
But beyond the coast, there are continuing concerns about water and air quality. While the state expands its industrial footprint, state budget cutbacks have reduced monitoring. Candidates were asked if they’d support increasing the Department of Environmental Quality’s permit fees to help cover the costs of monitoring air and water.
Edwards says absolutely, adding, “It’s a critical component of what DEQ should be doing to make sure that we are monitoring the environment.”
Dardenne says he would consider it.
“To the extent that there would be a fee imposed to do a particular service that there’s not money to do right now, I would certainly be open to doing that.”
“Mercury testing is a statewide priority. I’m certain that we can find the money we need to test for mercury,” Angelle said, seeming to indicate there’s enough money to cover water testing. He said nothing about air quality.
Vitter was not present at that particular forum, so we can only extrapolate his stance, based on his record. According to research by Pro Publica, while the lawsuits were ongoing over formaldehyde in FEMA trailers, Vitter was battling to keep the EPA from listing formaldehyde as a leukemia-causing carcinogen. It’s a fight he has continued in Congress this year.