Among the states setting aggressive climate goals, perhaps the most surprising is Louisiana. The longtime oil and gas state is now trying to figure out how to become carbon neutral by 2050. Tegan Wendland of member station WWNO reports.
TEGAN WENDLAND, BYLINE: Like so many in Louisiana, Daniel Autin knew exactly where to find a solid career – oil and gas – hard work, but it paid for his family’s modest home on the edge of the woods outside Houma.
DANIEL AUTIN: I mean, I thought I had a job for the rest of my life, you know?
WENDLAND: But five years ago, the notoriously boom and bust industry came for him. He’s in a completely different field now – construction. Sometimes he wonders if he should have done something differently to stay with oil and gas.
AUTIN: And you look at things from the big picture, and you realize, you know, you were probably lucky to have your job as long as you did.
WENDLAND: Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards seems to have come to the same conclusion about the state’s reliance on the oil and gas industry. In a major shift, he says the state must find ways to address the cause of the climate change that’s behind increasingly powerful hurricanes, floods and rising seas. So last fall he launched a climate task force to come up with a roadmap to zero out emissions.
JOHN BEL EDWARDS: If anyone can identify innovative and sustainable solutions for our future, it is Louisiana, and our kids are counting on us.
WENDLAND: Louisiana is the fifth largest carbon-producing state and a major petrochemical and oil and gas producer. For decades, it has subsidized the industry with tax breaks and incentives but made it hard for wind and solar companies to operate or develop. Now the climate commission will explore the potential for electric cars, mass transit, more solar, even offshore wind turbines in the Gulf of Mexico.