Tag Archives: oil and gas

Rankings and The Problem of Perception

 

Louisiana has often been ranked at or near the bottom of various surveys and  studies that claim to show the relative position of various states in the United States as regards the kind of excellence a particular study seeks to define and understand. Those seeking to lead or hold public office in this state have long had to contend with the perception of inferiority as well as with the rankings that proclaim that inferiority. There are few enough conversations regarding policy which do not include a discussion of these realities: Louisiana is perceived as straggling and in many regards (even if the studies are flawed in some ways), it is straggling as regards the United States.

Dr. Boustany and I at a town hall meeting. This was several years ago.

Dr. Boustany and I at a town hall meeting. This was several years ago.

There is a recent ranking of Louisiana schools among the schools of the United States of America. It has been discussed in the Daily Advertiser and that discussion can be accessed here.  The survey ranks Louisiana schools at 47 out of perhaps 51 systems with the district of Columbia. Interestingly, the  Yahoo News did a ranking of fifty states about the same time and did that ranking on the broadest possible basis and ranked Louisiana of all fifty states and in that ranking Louisiana came out ranked fifth.

Window in St .Louis Cathedral showing the Crusader saint's body being borne back when he died after launching a great war against Islamists who were terrorizing local Christians and others.

Window in St .Louis Cathedral showing the Crusader saint’s body being borne back when he died after launching a great war against Islamists who were terrorizing local Christians and others.

The struggle of life in Louisiana is an easy one to simplify. The struggle includes an ongoing struggle as to where we stand in the country.  Louisiana has been amazingly dominant in the millions of pounds of seafood landed at saltwater ports. There are times when half of the top five or ten ports were Louisiana ports in that category. We have never done as well in ranking of the dollar values of catches landed. Although the seafood industry is still a big deal.

Louisiana has done an amazing job of leading in the production of offshore oil and gas at various times but has gotten little of that money into state coffers to invest in things like education. The federal government has taken most of that revenue from huge categories of mineral production and has sent back funds in other forms with less social benefit like transfer payments to needy in systems that foster permanent poverty.

The Gulf of Mexico's oil reserves remain vital to our country's future.

The Gulf of Mexico’s oil reserves remain vital to our country’s future.

Louisiana has a vast treasury of cultural resources but exists in a society committed in general to degrading and destroying those resources over time. Jean Lafitte National Park and CODOFIL notwithstanding there has been a constant war on the distinctive values and traditions and assets of the state. So one has to ask what people here are being educated towards and why and how.

This may be one of the many reasons why although Louisiana has above average military enlistment it ranks below some of its neighbors in the former Confederacy. The military establishment here is significant but certainly not the biggest Fort Polk came out of recent reductions pretty well but over the decades has lost ground to other bases like Fort Hood. So rankings are part of the overall struggle to make sense of our place in the world.

 

My cousin Severin was killed in battle in Afghanistan.

My cousin Severin was killed in battle in Afghanistan.

Not very many people read this neglected blog compared to its heyday. However many of those who do have not heard of the term Silicon Bayou. There is disagreement about all aspects of the term. However the truth is that the area from New Orleans to Houston including Baton Rouge and Lafayette most of all is a technology center for the nation many aspects of the industries and universities in the region are ranked well in the fields of technology and information science.  The future is being built and sought here and has been for a long time. The results are always going to be mixed for many reasons.  I myself once led a group of interested people around the world in developing a plan for colonizing the Moon and Mars. There are thousands of ventures that do not achieve major recognition that have some influence. But there are also large operations and institutions.

How a crater on the Moon or Mars might be developed.

How a crater on the Moon or Mars might be developed.

That brings us back to the idea of perception. Louisiana has a substantial tourism industry and a substantial film industry. Both of these industries labor to improve perceptions of the state in different ways. Nonetheless, there is little perception nationally or globally of how much this state faces challenges for the world and the nation and not caused primarily by the negligence or incompetence of this society itself.

Shrimp boats become skimmers

Shrimp boats become skimmers

In the face of all the challenges of Louisiana life in this time it is interesting to not that Lafayette has been ranked as one of the happiest or the happiest city in the United States of America.  This happiness is not indifferent to or disconnected from all of our modern struggles but is perhaps rooted in our older heritage. That is perhaps also a key to how we perceive ourselves.

 

my great grandmother's painting

my great grandmother’s painting

As we all seek to find our way forward it is useful to remember who we are, to see who we wish to become and to try to help our young people realize dreams they and we both can value and affirm. The future after all is uncertain and we cannot be sure where everything will end up.

Congratulating Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills on reforming Marijuana law...

Congratulating Louisiana State Senator Fred Mills on reforming Marijuana law…

 

Ideal Wetlands Policy on the Louisiana Coast

I have decided to address the issues of wetlands conservation in Louisiana briefly in this post. In the past I have conspired for significant political change which would address the challenge of wetlands and coastal preservation and restoration along with many other issues that would be addressed only in the context of some very large political changes. This post is sort of an admission of defeat compared to those nearly forgotten goals. On the other hand it is for more than I am ever likely to see happen.

1. I would like to see some kind of stimulus fund used to by not one very large single tract but a series of many smaller tracts operated as a single National park with a total of perhaps 100,000 acres in all from the Atchafalya Swamp, the Chandeleur Islands, Cheniere Au Tigre, Grand Isle, Vermilion Bay’s coast, the Mississippi natural levees, and Ile des Dernier among other places.

2. I would like to see each oil and gas drilling and production corporation which has a part in developing the resources of Louisiana’s share of the Gulf madeto participate or have its own artificial barrier island. Each of these would have to include a fish hatchery, a wetlands plants nursery and  an artificial beach as well as a grassy wetlands section of several times the dry acreage on the inland side of the island. These islands would also have to hold a clinic, a regional drilling office, serve as a juncture for pipelines and have a public docks and small hotel. On the gulfside of the islands the corporations must operate or lease out underwater habitats and laboratories joined to a central umbilicus running up the island. The islands must be  built of at least eighty percent certified clean waste such as wrecks,  broken concrete, compressed and sealed garbage and other materials.

3. A Louisiana State Park should be set up in long lanes connected to several giant purification and oxidation farms worked by convicts and detainees as well as other workers. Part of this farm would be leased out as cattle pasture to offset expenses. As much as possible of emergency drainage and partialy cleaned sewerage would go from the cities of South Louisiana to these farms. After going through a simple plant and oxidation ponds the waters would go through an artificial eco system until reaching the park lanes. These lanes would resort to canals and pipes where necessary but would generaly run as continous fishing, hunting and camping stips of wetlands and coulees dep into the Gulf waters.

4.The lanes would enter the fully flooded areas and there would be an artificial long island causeway with many breaks through which as many as possible future pipelines should be run. The surface of this would have to be ninety percent suitable and reseved for ither simple recreational use or pure wildlife reservation.

5. There would be a designated spillway zones between the island causeway and the ends of the lanes. These  zones would  have a concentration of wetlands preserves, erosion fences and jetties and all of the storm water pumps sediment rich floods and excess waters which could not be used in ordinary diversions would be pumped ad diverted into these areas. The state would also operate commercial species hatcheries and nurseries for seafood supported by a special tax and operate lease and overseen new oysterbeds in this zone.

6. When this was done a series of sites for artificial islands set in between and landward from the oil and gas islands would be leased to casino resorts.

7.  A series of  levees and canals would be built around and between the lanes which would try to use existing structures and make a coherent feature of wildlife, wetlands, transit and drainage policies.

I expect things would be far from perfect if we did all of this. However, I also expect this is far better than the horror to which we are headed and have always been headed.