GCCLP Statement on Louisiana's Climate Action Plan

The Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy joins members of the Governor’s Climate Initiatives Task Force in approving Louisiana’s first climate action plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2022

CONTACT: Kendall Dix, kendall@gcclp.org, 816-590-7452

Slidell, LA – Following an Executive Order by Governor John Bel Edwards, and after 15 months of work and public meetings, Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force voted today to approve the first-ever Louisiana Climate Action Plan

Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force is composed of 23 members including government officials, scientists, issue experts, and state petrochemical sector representatives. The 170-page plan spells out the urgent need to prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while also preparing for and adapting to the climate disasters that are already here. The plan offers 28 strategies and 84 actions for the state to decarbonize its economy, improve health and equity outcomes, and protect natural ecosystems in the state. 

Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) approved the plan but submitted 17 objections to portions that will cause greater harm to Louisiana’s communities. GCCLP’s Co-Executive Director and Climate Initiatives Task Force member Colette Pichon Battle, Esq., who chaired the Equity Advisory Group to the Task Force, offered the following statement: 

“Acknowledging the urgency of the climate crisis is a major first step in addressing the disasters that continue to plague our state — no small feat in a state that has been dominated by the petrochemical industry for nearly a century. The Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities; the Task Force members, sector committees, and advisory groups; and all the members of the public who engaged in this process deserve credit for working for over a year to develop steps to begin addressing the climate crisis.

But the only way we can call this plan a success is to acknowledge it as the floor — rather than the ceiling — of the action we need to see from all actors in the state. At best, this is just the start of Louisiana’s long journey toward addressing the impacts of generations of extraction that have harmed our natural world, accelerated the global climate crisis, and widened the wealth gaps between fossil fuel executives and Louisiana’s working class. 

To truly address the global climate crisis being driven by fossil fuels, the state must build a new economy that benefits all Louisianans, protects our state’s shared natural resources, and repairs past harms to communities and ecosystems statewide. We must transition, as quickly as possible, to justly sourced renewable energy and demand the political leadership that will equitably guide the electrification of the state’s wildly overbuilt industrial sector. We must reduce the demand for energy as much as possible by decreasing industrial production, improving our homes, and redesigning our communities to prioritize the health and livelihood of Louisiana’s people over the profit of billion-dollar corporations. And we must have the courage to tell the truth about the environmental, health, and safety risks of dirty energy sources such as natural gas, nuclear, and some biofuels and hydrogen-based fuels. 

The Climate Action Plan lacks a strategy to reduce industrial production — we have yet to even acknowledge that, for all the economic advantages it has given to the few, the petrochemical industry’s stronghold on our state is why Louisiana ranks at the bottom of so many quality of life and equity metrics. It is not enough to decarbonize the industrial sector: achieving climate justice requires us to acknowledge that this sector is driving climate change around the globe through greenhouse gas emissions and in Louisiana through toxic pollution that continues to kill our residents and destroy our ecosystems and culture.

This is a step forward, but we cannot delude ourselves that this is the best we can do. GCCLP objected to 17 actions in the Plan, including portions that will further harm Louisiana’s communities such as natural gas-derived hydrogen, biofuels, and carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration. These forms of dirty energy rely on antiquated models of extraction and will continue to release greenhouse gases, harm our people, and poison our air, soil, and water. Enough is enough. 

The Plan calls equity a priority but offers no tangible goals to achieve it. To be actionable, the Plan must guarantee equity-based solutions that grant the information, opportunities, and repair systematically denied to Black, Indigenous, rural, and poor peoples throughout the state’s history. GCCLP calls on the state to adopt our proposed concrete equity standards, which are as ambitious and measurable as net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. GCCLP has also outlined action steps that enjoy broad agreement across all members of the Task Force. 

With such competing interests within the Task Force, no plan would have been perfect. But I’m proud of the robust public engagement from community groups like Gulf South for a Green New Deal. Today is a historic day for the great state of Louisiana, the home that we all love so dearly. But now the real work begins.”

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The Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) is a non-profit, public interest law firm and justice center with a mission to advance structural shifts toward climate justice and ecological equity in communities of color on the frontline of climate change.