Laying the groundwork for a sustained effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight coastal erosion in Louisiana, on Wednesday, August 19 Governor John Bel Edwards signed two executive orders into law.
The first one, Executive Order JBE 2020-18, established Louisiana’s first Climate Initiatives Task Force. The task force will include representatives from the scientific community, government agencies, the private sector, and civil society, who will study Louisiana’s environmental issues and make recommendations on how to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions.
The group’s goal is to formulate strategies that will cut emissions by 26-28% by 2025, 40-50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050. The Climate Initiatives Task Force will produce updates on Louisiana’s greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020, an interim report by February 2021, and a final strategy for moving forward by 2022.
The group will recognize the “state’s extreme climate vulnerabilities as well as the characteristics of its energy-intensive economy.” Louisiana is the only state in which industrial sector emissions make up more than half of the state’s total emissions, which indubitably is connected with the state’s reliance on the oil and gas industry. Therefore, for the task force’s goals to be met they will need to work with leaders in the energy industry.
That is probably why of the task force’s 23 members, most of which will be from government agencies and community advocates, 3 positions will be filled by representatives for oil and gas. Included will be a member of The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, a person from the Louisiana Chemical Association, and a “representative of an electricity utility.”
The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association president, Lori Leblanc commented, “Louisiana has long been a global leader in energy production, and this task force presents an opportunity to show the world that energy production and environmental stewardship go hand in hand. Through the efforts of this task force and the actions of LMOGA members, Louisiana can become a leader in climate change solutions.”How Leblanc believes that the continued harvesting of oil and gas and genuine efforts to restore Louisiana’s coast while fighting climate change will go hand-in-hand is so far unclear.
This task force has long been a dream of John Bel Edwards who prior to running promised to hold oil and gas companies responsible for the damage they are doing to Louisiana’s environment. How the task force will hold them accountable is yet to be seen.
The second executive order that John Bel Edwards signed into law was Executive Order JBE 2020-19, which has been titled the Adaptive Governance Initiative. It will provide steps for improving the state government’s response to climate change by coordinating adaption efforts across state agencies under the leadership of the newly appointed Chief Resilience Officer. The plan has been designed and executed through a partnership between the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities and the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX).
16 government agencies have appointed representatives to work on the Adaptive Governance Initiative including, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Health, Department of Insurance, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Department of Revenue, Department of Transportation and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Division of Administration, Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Housing Corporation, Louisiana Workforce Commission and Office of the Lieutenant Governor, and the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
The group’s mission will be bringing every state agency’s skills, missions, and expertise towards the collective cause of building a healthier coast. They will work on proactively addressing climate change and preparing Louisiana for the significant changes that will come as a result of it.