I saw an article in The Advocate today with the statement “I thought we were an oil and gas state” in the headline. It also stated that solar developments were drawing scrutiny. That particular article is paywalled. Since I subscribe to The Advocate, I read the piece and wanted to share some thoughts, but I’m not going to reveal many of the details of the article since it’s paywalled. I will share what I know from some of my previous research along with some publicly available key points that were also mentioned in the article.
In 2019, Entergy won approval to buy solar power from a planned West Baton Rouge plant, which is what the article leads with, (you can read that part before the paywall kicks in). At the time, this was celebrated yet the idea that solar is bad for our state is still present. In the paywalled article, someone suggested that solar is a natural enemy of an important industry here in Louisiana — the fossil fuel industry. That idea is 100% correct, and I’ve said this plenty of times before, but people here in Louisiana are heavily marketed to by the fossil fuel industry. Some of our politicians are even members of that industry, whether they own oil wells or are tied to the industry in other ways.
The person who made the quote in the headline had a full statement in the article echoing what I’ve heard from others here. When I was at the state capitol building with a handful of Tesla owners advocating for EV awareness, we were met with folks who thought we wanted to take their livelihoods away.
The article also touched upon the idea that maybe solar was advancing too fast, that it scared some folks. This echoes LA HCR40, recent state legislation directing the Department of Economic Development and the State Board of Commerce and Industry to suspend certain tax incentives, subsidies, and public financial support for utility-scale solar projects. That’s right, Louisiana’s politicians who are owned by the fossil fuel industry suspended financial incentives for utility-scale solar projects. The legislation passed.
The new legislation will prevent solar projects from benefitting from Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). The program exempts major industrial projects from most property taxes for up to a decade. The reason given for why this legislation was created in the first place was fear that solar developers would outbid farmers on land leases.
The article also touched upon other ideas — click here to read more.
The Advocate reported on new legislation that would block solar in another article. The legislation to slow down solar development goes across a few bills. One is the above-mentioned LA HCR40, but there’s also another bill, SB 185, which wants to regulate leases of land for solar farms. It also passed.
The new law delays implementation until the secretary identifies funding through fees, federal grants, or other sources. The Department of Natural Resources will be tasked with promulgating the rules for solar leases. The bill was reportedly aimed at keeping solar farms from going the way of abandoned oil wells, which don’t have the funding to be plugged and cleaned up. That’s the argument, at least.
Senator Allain told The Advocate, “My fear is that if we don’t weigh in on how these leases are to happen that we will end up with orphan solar farms across the state.”
During a Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and International Affairs Committee Meeting, Senator Karen Carter Peterson, a Democrat, was a bit confused about the purpose of HCR40. “I thought we were trying to promote more solar projects. So, help me out,” she said.
Joe Mapes, a lobbyist with the Louisiana Farm Bureau, explained that the ITEP program was created for projects that create jobs and stimulate economic activity.
A Message From Louisiana To Its Citizens
Louisiana really doesn’t care that we are breathing in toxic air. The officials who live in our state are also breathing in that same air — and although they get tax-payer-funded healthcare, they really don’t care if they breathe it in. So, naturally, they don’t really care about the rest of us.
Logan Atkinson Burke, the executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, told The Advocate, “We have been disappointed but not surprised to see Louisiana legislators looking to block clean energy development.
“This is only hurting Louisiana and holding us back from joining the renewable and efficient economy that the rest of the country is moving on.”
The article noted that the resolution sends a message to those of us breathing in toxic, polluted air from the fossil fuel industries that basically own some of our politicians. Senator Carter Peterson, who is for our state’s progress with clean energy, said: “It’s just a horrible message when we have Cancer Alley here in Louisiana.”
We may have a Democratic governor, but labels aside, I really and truly believe that the majority of our politicians — not just in Louisiana, but throughout the nation — are bought by many an industry. Here in Louisiana, that industry is the fossil fuel industry. I do agree that orphaned decommissioned solar farms could be a hassle, but they do not pose the environmental threat that abandoned oil wells do. They are relatively simple to dismantle and most of the parts would be useful if recycled, and will still hold economic value after the solar farm is no longer needed — old oil & gas wells are just useless at best, and often harmful.
Surely we can vote out corrupted politicians, right? You would think that voters would vote for people who care about their livelihoods, but in all honesty, many voters believe these crooked politicians care about their well-being. Look at Trump’s supporters, for instance. Those who are still wearing his accessories, waving his flags, and idolizing him are exhibiting behaviors of people who are in cults.
People are easily manipulated and politicians excel at manipulating the masses while pushing their own agenda through. We can publish a thousand scientific studies as to why Exxon’s pollution is bad and why clean energy is good, but until our politicians quit allowing a toxic industry to buy them or influence their policies, nothing can be done.