A pro-Trump Louisiana town ditches fossil fuels


The main topic on this blog in the last few years has been the danger posed by society’s addiction to fossil fuels — an addiction we continue to feed with more and more offshore drilling in the Gulf and elsewhere, with fracking that pollutes our environment and causes earthquakes, and with pipelines that leak and taint our sources of pure drinking water. But in politics they have a saying, that you can’t beat somebody with nobody. A decade ago, alternative sources of energy like wind and solar still cost consumers a lot more than fossil fuels, and in a cost-conscious world and with a sluggish economy, that made oil and natural gas hard to beat.

But times have changed, The rapid pace of technological advance has made clean energy now competitive with fossil fuels; it’s a story that’s been sadly under-reported in the media, but savvy government officials have been to take notice — and not just in the ultra-liberal big cities up north. This month, the tiny town of Abita Springs became the first municipality in Louisiana to promise its residents an 100 percent transfer to clean energy as soon as feasible.

Here’s a report on the bold move from NOLA.com:

 Abita Springs has become the first municipality in Louisiana, and the 24th in the United States, to commit to a full transition to clean and renewable energy. The Town Council on Wednesday (March 22) approved a resolution establishing a community-wide goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Madison, Wis., on the same day committed to the transition, making it the 25thcity. The Abita Springs resolution stems from a January proclamation by Mayor Greg Lemons endorsing a goal of 100 percent renewable energy in the St. Tammany Parish town.

“As the mayor of a small town, I take seriously my responsibility to set the direction for our community,” Lemons said. “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs.”

In the wake of the moves by the two cities, environmental advocates said renewable energy seems to transcend politics. They said 70 percent of Madison voters cast ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election while almost 75 percent of St. Tammany voters backed Republican Donald Trump.

“Whether you’re Republican or a Democrat, from a liberal college city or a rural Louisiana town, clean energy is putting America back to work and benefitting communities across the country,” Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, said. “That’s why Madison, Wisconsin, and Abita Springs, Louisiana, … join the ranks of 23 other cities and towns across the United States that are going all-in on clean, renewable energy.”

If the name Abita Springs seems familiar to readers of the site, there’s good reason, A couple of years ago, residents of the area fought long and hard against an energy company’s plan to use fracking techniques to drill for oil in St. Tammany’s Parish. At the time, the birth of an environmental movement in a rural part of Lousiana, where oil and natural gas has long been king, was major news; since then, the torch has been picked up by activists fighting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and other risky projects that aim to keep the state and the nation dependent on fossil fuels.

This new action by the leaders of Abita Springs shows an even higher level of environmental consciousness — the understanding that the era of fossil-fuel dominance is now in our rear-view mirror. Let’s hope that our policy makers listen to the message from a place like Abita Springs — a place that voted for a pro-fossil-fuels president just five months ago.

Read more about the transition to clean energy in Abita Springs from NOLA.com: http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/03/abita_springs_first_in_state_t.html

Learn more about the need for worldwide action on fossil fuels in my new book, Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America: http://shop.benbellabooks.com/crude-justice

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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