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L O U I S I A N A P U B L I C S E R V I C E C O M M I S S I O N E R
27 May 2015
Letters to the Editor
The Baton Rouge Advocate
Louisiana will suffer chronic financial problems until we break the grip of the major oil
companies on the Legislature and Governor.
An umbilical cord connects our legislators and Governor to Big Oil. That cord may feed the
politicians, but Louisiana continues to rank poorly in educational, environmental and economic
Facing a $1.6-billion deficit next year, the Legislature taxed its weakest constituents and
largely left the companies untouched. College students and parents face higher tuition, motorists
more gas taxes, and smokers higher tobacco taxes.
Working-class and elderly Louisiana residents will endure cutbacks in health care. State
employees will see their paychecks and benefits squeezed.
This ugly picture plays out as Louisiana approaches the 100th anniversary of its Oil and Gas
Severance Tax. This antique from 1921 taxes in-state production but ignores the enormous
quantities of oil and gas brought to Louisiana for processing.
See how the obsolete Severance Tax works at the giant ExxonMobil refinery in Baton
Rouge: The plant processes 98 percent foreign oil and 2 percent Louisiana oil, and we tax the 2
A constitutional amendment by Senator Ben Nevers of Bogalusa would let voters modernize
Louisiana oil and gas taxes. It proposes a tax on hydrocarbon “processing” to support education,
health care, state employee and teacher retirement, and highways.
The bill has yet to receive a hearing.
As a senator I offered a tax on hydrocarbon processing at least 10 times, but the Legislature
refused to put the issue before voters.
Industry lobbyists must kill the Processing Tax in the Legislature because they know the
voters would approve it. Louisiana floats on a sea of foreign oil. We have thousands of miles of
pipeline, refineries no other states want, the Mississippi River to transport tankers, and politicians
friendly to Big Oil.
Not to mention the enormous oilfields off our coast.
Importing and processing oil is part of our culture. We have done it for decades. As a
result, we have tendencies similar to “petro-states” like Venezuela and Nigeria. The companies
dominate our politics. We defend them when they pollute our waters or damage our coast. We cut
The ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge has received $119 million in subsidies since 2011.
The Governor and Legislature stooped to a new low last year when they worked to kill the
lawsuit blaming Big Oil for eroding our coastline, despite damage shown by the industry’s own
Voters who want their state back should ask the candidates for Governor and Legislature:
Who will you represent? How will you solve our fiscal problems? Will you tax foreign oil and cut
taxes on people?
Will you cut the umbilical cord and give us back our independence?
P.O. DRAWER E – SHREVEPORT LA 71161
318 676 7464 – FOSTER.CAMPBELL@LA.GOV