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Palazzo, please protect your constituents from climate change threats

An open letter to Rep. Steven Palazzo

Sir:

I want to thank you for your service with the Marine Corps during the Gulf War and your continued service in the military. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I respect those who protect and defend our country.

Now that you serve the people of Mississippi’s District 4, you continue to bear that responsibility to protect — which brings me to the subject of this writing: The Mississippi Gulf Coast is under threat from rising seas and increased severity of storms. That’s why the Gulf of Mexico Alliance is working to establish resiliency standards to protect critical Coast installations such as our ports.

Increasing water temperatures along the Coast have increased the extent and longevity of threats such as Vibrio, red tide and other bacteria. We know this because of the large and competent scientific community in your district such as the Naval Meteorology and Oceanographic Command, the Gulf Coast Research Lab, Department of Marine Resources, USM Gulf Park and Stennis. These are the people who gather the data and analyze it. They understand the threat. They are our neighbors.

Your website says you are strongly in favor of jobs in our district. We all support you on that. Tourism and the seafood industry create jobs but face a long-term existential threat to their existence. Coastal refineries, ports, shipyards and infrastructure are becoming harder to protect as oceans rise and storms continue to become more violent.

As a supporter of the military, you are aware of the Department of Defense report “Security Implications of Climate Change.” Easy to find on the internet, it spells out the increasing threat our military faces as the global effects of climate change disrupt societies worldwide. The “DoD Climate Change Adaption Roadmap,” also on the internet, surveys the increased threat as the Arctic sea lanes open to shipping and exploitation in that resource-rich area without clear national boundaries.

On your website, you support sound energy policy, specifically oil, natural gas and clean coal. We will need oil for many years to come. Natural gas has to be part of the mix to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and nuclear, which emits no greenhouse gasses, is also necessary. If by clean coal you mean the new plant in Kemper County, you are backing a losing horse. Even if it finally works, it requires burying 3 million tons of carbon dioxide, with no assurance that it will stay underground. If it starts coming out, it will be catastrophic and unstoppable.

You are critical of the subsidies for solar and wind. True, these cannot supply all of our energy needs today, but the technology is rapidly improving and has the potential to supply the majority of our needs globally by the end of this century. They are clean and powered by an endless supply of free fuel. Our government has subsidized worse.

You worked hard for passage of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. Good. We will need it. What many readers may find puzzling, however, is why you worked so hard to gain a subsidy for the victims of climate change but will not support a subsidy for fixing climate change itself.

Many of your constituents in District 4 applaud your stand against increased government regulation. They create unseen costs and grow the power and size of government. Regulations that create uncertainty for businesses and citizens can easily be changed.

Fortunately, there are solutions that do not require government regulations. Congress can enact legislation. For example, Exxon supports legislation to create a revenue neutral carbon tax, which will reduce greenhouse gasses with minimum government involvement. Members of the military are called upon to put their life at risk to protect their country. Is it too much to ask to put your political career at risk to protect your constituents?

Respectfully,

Bill Curtis

Dr. Bill Curtis, a Biloxi native, holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a member of the Gulf Coast Citizens Climate Lobby and CCL Conservative Caucus.

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