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Sunday
Jul102011

BP Oil Spill

 

 

Better environmental controls are clearly essential for any future offshore oil and gas exploration. The
Deepwater Horizon disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, serves as another reminder of how critical Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are to our safety, economic viability and cultural identity as we continue our path into the 21st century.
Coastal restoration is, of course, phenomenally expensive. While Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts are funded by a variety of state and the federal sources, the billions of additional dollars that will be needed for large-scale coastal restoration depend, largely, on the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act championed by Sen. Mary Landrieu and former Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico.
Through GOMESA, the four Gulf oil and gas producing states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas)
started receiving dedicated funds in 2007 from federal oil and gas leases — explicitly to support coastal
conservation, restoration and hurricane protection in those states. These funds could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year starting in 2017.
There is great irony that Louisiana depends on non-renewable fossil fuels for restoring our coast. It’s these same energy sources that emit greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, which exacerbate our coast’s vulnerability from sea level rise and more intense hurricanes powered by warmer Gulf waters.
Some will disagree with my assertion that greenhouse gases are the problem, but here are some undeniable


facts: 1) our seas are rising,

2) our coast is sinking,

3) we are increasingly vulnerable to intense hurricanes

because of our eroding coast and

4) our primary funding source for coastal restoration and protection is based on a finite resource — oil and gas.


I am a supporter of GOMESA and applaud Sens. Landrieu and Domenici for their tenacity in getting it passed because it is our state’s most viable funding source for large-scale coastal restoration and protection for the next 50 years.

In addition, our nation’s continued demand for domestic oil and gas supplies makes oil and gas one of
Oil leak adds urgency to clean fuel search: Louisiana’s most strategic economic assets and employers.
However, as we continue to invest in oil and gas exploration off our coast, we should also be investing in promising technologies that create jobs now and can potentially help pay for restoration and protection of our coast in the future.


In order to remain internationally competitive in the energy economy and ensure our energy security
throughout the 21st century, the United States must dramatically increase our investments in renewable
energy technology and capitalize on our variety of abundant, renewable natural resources including solar, wind, water and biomass.


And, with the world population forecast to grow from 6.7 billion to almost 10 billion people between now and 2050, the demand for renewable energy and fresh, clean water will increase dramatically.
The Obama administration has acknowledged this market with more than $80 billion in clean energy
investments and future clean energy jobs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
New Orleans is a city at the bottom of the Mississippi River Basin — the largest river basin on the continent.


On average, almost a billion liters of water course through our city every minute of every day.
However, this constant, renewable water supply, which would be the envy of many parched places in the world, is something we typically take for granted or even view as a threat, in terms of flooding.
The Port of New Orleans sees the Mississippi River in terms of commerce. The coastal restoration community sees it in terms of providing freshwater and sediment to promote coastal restoration.
We have an opportunity now to see the river and its constant current as a source of renewable energy.
Through the use of turbines and other “hydrokinetic” technologies placed in the river, we can capitalize on this abundance of water to produce an environmentally safe, renewable energy source that can complement our existing oil and gas industry and make New Orleans a hub for a new economy that actually benefits from our abundance of freshwater.

Courtesy of Douglas Meffert is Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River and Coastal Studies, executive director of Tulane RiverSphere, and deputy director for policy at the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research.

A guest column by … http://blog.nola.com/opinions_impact/print.html?entry=/2010/05
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