Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State's Rights

The hole in the President's SOTU speech--which was big enough to drive a streetcar named "Desire" through--was his omission of any long-term initiatives for Gulf Coast recovery. He did mention Katrina survivors as a segue to the rate of HIV among African Americans (?!), and at the Grand Old Opry today he mentioned the Gulf Coast while referencing private charity toward evacuees. Other than that, any bright ideas he might have for recovery were not divulged.

No new ideas to re-populate the largest and busiest American port. No plans for the state that supports 80% of the oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing substantive mentioned to reclaim the country's economic backbone for the sake of property owners driven out by Katrina.

In the absence of any presidential leadership on this matter, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco seems to be stepping up to fight for her state's rights to more than just 27% of oil royalties (the federal government currently enjoys the lion's share of those royalties). According to, Ms. Blanco is refusing to sign any off-shore lease sales for oil exploration in the Gulf until Louisiana is assured of half of the royalties on any oil found there in order to pay for hurricane protection and coastal restoration that is not forthcoming from the federal government. Given Bush's willingness to commit a measly 6 more billion dollars for aid, excepting residents who live in flood prone areas, reports that the fight over oil royalties looks to get locked down in court for awhile. In the meantime, another hurricane season approaches.

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