Suddenly, everyone cares about Louisiana

In her news conference yesterday, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said she had heard from George W. Bush, and that he was “very concerned” about Louisiana. It was only few weeks ago that Bush’s sudden status as a Louisiana booster surprised the governor, and it may take her a while to get used to his newly found solicitousness. Bush has been bragging about the $540 million for Louisiana’s coastal restoration that is part of the new energy bill. But only a week before the bill passed, the White House was trying to get the Louisiana appropriation changed to $57 million.

For some time now, Bush has opposed any attempt by Congress to help Louisiana regain some of its lost coastline, and it has taken years of pleading by Louisiana officials–led by Senator Mary Landrieu–to get Congress to pay any attention at all to the state’s crisis. Yesterday on NPR, Landrieu took an opportunity to say once again that the loss of Louisiana’s wetlands should be of concern to the entire nation.

Bush describes the $540 million as “a good start.” Blanco, Landrieu, and the citizenry of Louisiana will be waiting to see if there is anything beyond a “good start” coming from Congress and the White House. There is every reason to be skeptical, especially since the Bush administration recently cut $71.2 million in funding for New Orleans hurricane and flood protection, the largest one-time cut in history.