The Louisiana “Storm”

1Sky Louisiana came out in true New Orleans fashion last April 8th at the office of U.S. Representative Anh “Joseph” Cao. Participants in “The Storm” campaign donned lavish Second-Line umbrellas decorated with the number 350 and depictions of polar bears. The environmental/folk music duo, Sassafrass, comprised of members Joe Billups and Karen Harvill, brought their guitars and sang songs about climate change, dirty coal, and clean air. If you haven’t heard these highly motivated and inspiring musicians from the Gulf Coast, then it’s worth checking out their MySpace page at and listening to their music. They have several songs specifically about global warming and played in Copenhagen last December aboard GreenPeace’s ship the “Rainbow Warrior” during the international climate negotiations, and recently in DC for members of Congress.While the atmosphere was festive, (as is usually the case when a diverse group of folks get together in New Orleans!), the message delivered to Rep. Cao’s office could not have more serious implications for Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast region. Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District is extremely vulnerable to more powerful storms and rising sea-levels. Match that with poorly designed levees and coastal wetlands destruction by oil and gas companies and it becomes clear that this part of the Gulf needs urgent action at the federal level to address climate change. Louisiana also so happens to be one of the most polluted States in the Union in terms of both air and water. As such, it is that much more important that the EPA be protected from any attempts in Congress to strip it of its power to regulate carbon emissions or any other pollutants for that matter.Led by the Gulf Restoration Network and 1Sky, at Thursday’s rally activists delivered thousands of petition signatures to Rep. Cao’s office demanding his support for comprehensive climate legislation and protection of the Clean Air Act. The contingency of about 25 people was met by Murray Nelson, Legislative Director for Congressman Cao. We were very appreciative of the opportunity to speak with Mr. Murray but were not going to be “diverted” from our purpose which was to demand Congressman Cao be a champion for strong effective climate legislation and a leader against any efforts to gut the Clean Air Act by neutralizing EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions. In our conversation, Nelson tried to stay clear from discussing EPA and clean energy and instead wanted to continue talking about coastal restoration and river diversions. We quickly got him back on course and reminded him that Congressman Cao has not been a leader on climate and clean energy and that he let down his district by not supporting the American Clean Energy and Security Act or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We informed Cao’s staff of efforts underway to gut the Clean Air Act and implored him to fight for the health and protection of his district instead of taking the side of polluting industries that have done so much damage to our coast and communities. We reminded him that the signatures we were delivering represented a cross section of voters and that these folks have pledged to support candidates that are committed to bold action on climate change. In the end, we can only hope that Congressman Cao steps up and does the right thing when it comes to our coast, climate, and future.

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