Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Rumors Are Flying!

On his blog,, Len Bahr reports on anticipated goings-on in the upcoming 2009 fiscal session of the Louisiana legislature (April 27). Rumor has it that several legislators from the “far north” (north of Alexandria, LA, that is) have formed a “Yankee Caucus” that will introduce an amendment known as “The Coast is Toast”.

For those of you unfamiliar with the travails of Louisiana, USA, the coast is rapidly subsiding along with rising sea-level—leading to wetland loss rates of around 25 square miles per year. In the past century, an area the size of Delaware has been lost. The flooding of New Orleans that occurred following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 focused international attention on the vulnerability of low-lying areas in this region.

The amendment, if passed, would move the official coastline of Louisiana north from its historic position to just below Baton Rouge. Presumably, this idea is based on inundation maps showing most of south Louisiana underwater with a rise in sea level of one meter or so (predicted by some models for this century) (see map above). This EPA site shows maps of Louisiana and other areas vulnerable to sea-level rise.

Anyway, the LaCoastPost received an email from the secretary of an anonymous member of the Louisiana House of Representatives that describes some of the wording in the rumored amendment:

“Whereas, beginning in FY 2017, significant revenues derived from oil and gas leasing and production in federal waters offshore Louisiana will accrue to coastal parishes under the Minerals Mangement Service Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP); and whereas, the science tells us that by the year 2020 most of Louisiana south of I-10 and I-12 will be under water; and whereas, the previous whereas implies that the southern third of Louisiana will soon be mostly uninhabited; therefore, We the undersigned petition the legislature and the voters of Louisiana to officially amend the Louisiana state constitution to declare that the official coastal zone of the state shall be shifted north approximately fifty miles.”

Not to be outmaneuvered, legislators from districts in south Louisiana are reportedly organizing a counter-attack, calling themselves the “Rebel Caucus”. They are apparently confident that Louisiana is not threatened by sea-level rise (or subsidence)—a conclusion based on biblical scripture.

I don’t know if these rumors are true, and those of you who are unfamiliar with Louisiana politics are probably shaking your heads by now. But one must keep in mind that this is the same Louisiana legislature that recently passed a bill mandating that biology teachers in public schools teach “creation science” as the “scientific alternative” to evolution. So, anything is possible….

On the other hand, today is April Fool's Day.

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