A Bill To Make Louisiana 'Sanctuary State' For Fossil Fuels? Did Oil Write This?
Back in Medieval times, it was possible all over Europe to murder someone or commit another crime and then run into a church and be safe from being arrested or otherwise punished — which usually resulted in being exiled instead. This, as you probably learned from reading or watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was called declaring sanctuary.
During the Trump administration (and even before that), cities across the country declared themselves sanctuary cities for immigrants — meaning that they would limit their cooperation with a bunch of exceptionally terrible federal immigration laws. California declared itself a sanctuary state. This was for both compassionate reasons and practical ones. People in these cities didn't want to spend money and resources hurting their neighbors because it made people who don't even live in those cities feel good about themselves.
But oh how the tables have turned! Somewhat. Late last month, Danny McCormick, a Republican Louisiana state rep and oil company owner, attempted to pass a bill that would declare the state a sanctuary state ... for fossil fuels. Probably out of compassion for said fossil fuels, who have simply come to Louisiana in search of a better life, so that they and their family members can be drilled out of the ground and turned into leaded or unleaded.
"I don't know who would have a problem with it, honestly," McCormick explained during the bill's hearing. Apparently he had not met any of the many people — people in color in particular — who would have a problem with it and might dislike the idea of getting sick so oil company owners like McCormick can get rich.
Via The Guardian:
Nixing environmental requirements would disproportionately hit communities of color. Shreveport, which is 57% Black, is in the 90th to 95th percentile for cancer risk from breathing in air toxics, according to the EPA's National Air Toxics Assessment. In 2013, the EPA fined the Calumet refinery $326,000 for nine air violations, prompting a new fenceline monitoring system.
Shreveport is in north-west Louisiana, almost on the border with Texas. But south-east Louisiana, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is also known for its heavy industrial presence and pollution. It has been dubbed "Cancer Alley".
Perhaps ironically, because this will probably kill people, it's actually somewhat more in line with the medieval concept of declaring sanctuary than not following immigration laws would be.
While the bill has been stalled due to the fact that it would not exactly be entirely legal, McCormick and other Republicans are currently working hard to change the language in a way that would make it passable.
McCormick's bill was tabled because of concerns that the current language could cause the US Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the state's authority to enforce federal rules. But his colleagues still offered their support. The chairman of the Louisiana House Natural Resources and the Environment Committee, Jean-Paul P Coussan (R-Lafayette), said he would work with McCormick to resolve issues with the bill that could give the federal government more power over oil and gas companies in Louisiana.
"You're not going to find a bigger support of oil and gas in his legislature than maybe you and I," Coussan said to McCormick at the committee hearing. "We can tighten this up so all our oil and gas constituents can be proud of the bill. The intent is to help industry not to end up in court just for a headline."
Aw! So helpful. To industry.
Unfortunately, this is not the only crap law meant to murder the environment that Louisiana legislators are trying to pass. It's not even the only crap law meant to murder the environment that Danny McCormick is trying to pass. He's also floating out HB 549, which would "stop Louisiana State Police from being able to ticket pipeline companies for failing to immediately notify them of small natural gas releases by changing the definition of a pipeline from a mode of transport, which the state police has authority over, to a facility, which they don't."
I mean really, just because something can kill people doesn't mean you need to be notifying anyone that it is happening. Surely, if people in Louisiana really cared about not dying, they could walk around with their own portable oxygen tanks all day.
Wonkette is independent and fully funded by readers like you. Click below to tip us!
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse