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Landrieu touts Fair Share billLEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 4, 1998NORCO – “It’s been great working with John Breaux,” Sen. Mary Landrieutold the general membership meeting of the River Parishes Council, The Chamber. “We make a great team.”Landrieu addressed most of her remarks toward her recently-filed and widely-supported Fair Share bill aimed at returning millions of dollars in oil and gas offshore drilling revenue to Louisiana.

“It’s something everybody literally can agree on,” she remarked. Since1955, when offshore drilling began off the Louisiana coast, the federal government has taken in more than $120 billion. Last year, the federalgovernment received $5 billion. “We get absolutely nothing…zero,” shesaid. “We could’ve done a lot with $120 billion.”With her bill, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Trent Lott, the bill’sformula will share 27 percent of offshore revenues with all coastal states, some going to state governments and some directly to local governments.

A total of 35 states would be affected by passage of this bill. “It’s ourbest chance in 50 years,” she added, noting it could mean $200-300 million for Louisiana for the next few decades, or however long the oil and gas drilling continues.

In addition, 10 percent would fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, established under the Eisenhower administration but never funded. Thiswould help all 50 states expand parks and recreation programs.

Finally, the bill would boost funding for education and commitment to the wildlife and recreational hunting industry.

“It’s been a long time coming, and it’s so important to Louisiana,” Landrieu noted. “God has blessed us with our natural resources. There’snot a state anywhere which has what we have.”The senator also stressed cooperation by chambers of commerce statewide, and said ports are working together, better than ever before.

She urged development of airports in Louisiana and observed, “Louisiana does not have the best reputation for inter-parish cooperation.” Sherecalled the Cincinnati, Ohio, airport which is actually located in Kentucky.

Landrieu also lauded the St. Charles Parish school system which, she said,is “leading the state,” and “putting their money where their mouth is.”Tourism also got a boost from Landrieu, who spoke of a recent fishing trip she took in Lafitte. It was only a 35-minute drive from New Orleans andshe was in a remote fishing camp, yet with One Shell Square still visible on a clear day.

Landrieu also alluded to the recent Shintech controversy in St. JamesParish, in response to an audience question. She replied, “We have to bevery careful. We could have a situation to shut down all development.”She observed it is odd how one federal agency will promote industrial development in poverty-stricken areas with tax incentives while another federal agency will attempt to block that same development, crying “environmental racism.””It’s important for Congress to bring clarity to this issue,” she said.

Landrieu noted President Clinton’s success with adding 100,000 new police officers, resulting in a widespread drop in crime rates, and applauded Clinton’s latest effort to add 100,000 new teachers to improve education by cutting teacher-student ratios.

“The critics are now silenced,” she said, smiling.

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