Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards held a press conference this week to announce his administration’s plans to combat climate change and sea level rise. The announcement was especially notable because it was made in a state that’s a major producer of oil, gas and petrochemicals.
“Science tells us that rising sea level will become the biggest challenge we face, threatening to overwhelm our best efforts to protect and restore our coast,” said Gov. Edwards, who spoke at the Louisiana State University Center for River Studies in Baton Rouge. “Science also tells us that sea level rise is being driven by global greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to an article posted on NOLA.com, the governor announced the creation of a Climate Initiatives Task Force that will recommend concrete steps that the state can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and handle the increased flooding that’s sure to occur as seas continue to rise in the decades to come.
Louisiana is facing a difficult challenge. The Environmental Integrity Project reported in January that in 2018 alone three plants emitted 764 million tons of greenhouse gases, which are driving global warming. That’s an 8% increase over 2016. The group said industrywide plans to expand facilities in the state could increase release of the heat-trapping gases by almost a third by 2025.
Edwards said the state will work with energy and petrochemical companies to find solutions to climate change. He said he’s also appointing a chief resilience officer to make all state agencies aware of what’s being done to combat climate change and sea level rise.
Some environmental groups applauded the governor’s announcement. “To protect the future of our state, we must do everything we can to limit the rate of sea level rise,” Steve Cochran, an Environmental Defense Fund official, told NOLA.com. “We must adapt to changes that are already occurring along our coast, and we must think long term about our jobs. …. This is what progress looks like.”