Lessons from Louisiana on Oil, Politics, and Environmental Justice
A piercing study of the political, economic, and environmental havoc unleashed by the oil industry
Hydrocarbon Hucksters is the saga of the oil industry's takeover of Louisiana--its leaders, its laws, its environment, and, by rechanneling the flow of public information, its voters. It is a chronicle of mindboggling scientific and technical triumphs sharing the same public stew with myths about the "goodness" of oil and bald-faced public lies by politicians and the captains of industry. It is a story of money and power, greed and corruption, jingoism and exploitation, pollution and disease, and the bewilderment and resignation of too many of the powerless. Most importantly, Hydrocarbon Hucksters is a case study of what happens when a state uncritically hands the oil and petrochemical industries everything they desire. Today, Louisiana ranks at or near the bottom of the fifty states on virtually every measure related to the quality of life--income, health, education, environment, public services, public safety, physical infrastructure, and vulnerability to disasters (both natural and man-made). Nor, contrary to the claims of the hydrocarbon sector, has there been much in the way of job creation to offset all of this social grief.
The authors (one a scientist, the other an environmental lawyer) have woven together the science, legal history, economic issues, and national and global contexts of what has happened. Their objective is to raise enough national awareness to prevent other parts of the United States from repeating Louisiana's historical follies. The authors are uncle and niece, a generation apart, who have melded their conclusions from two separate tracks.
The Zebrowskis take you on a historic tour of the petroleum industry in Louisiana that will leave you shaking your head in wonder that a state so rich in oil and natural gas could rank so high in poverty, so low in education, and so smarmy in its political leadership. Republicans and Democrats alike are subjected to critique in Hydrocarbon Hucksters. No one is spared the Zebrowskis' critical examination. Once you read Hydrocarbon Hucksters, you will never feel the same again when you fill your gas tank--about oil companies, Wall Street, Congress, or the Louisiana legislature.- Tom Aswell, author of Louisiana Rocks! The True Genesis of Rock & Roll and publisher of Louisiana Voice political blog (louisianavoice.com)