Melissa Harris-Perry | March 03, 2013
>>> this week was just the first phase in one of the largest environmental trials in u.s. history which is set to hear testimony for three months to determine the share of liability of bp and other companies involved in the 2010 deep water horizon oil rig explosion. even as we consider the enormous cost of that disaster, you can't ignore that the oil industry plays a big role in the economy of the gulf coast . and for the political leaders in the region this poses a quandary when trying to regulation a profit-driven industry that brings millions of jobs, to well, their constituents. here's louisiana senator mary landrieu arguing against closing the tax loophole for the oil industry .
>> these five large oil companies that everybody enjoys beating up on, and i understand that they are making a lot of money today, but this is no reason to go after them, singling them out, particularly because of the 9.2 million americans working in and around and for them and the thousands of independent companies and suppliers that work in partnership with them.
>> and that is the tough position i want to ask my next guest about. joining me for a discussion from baton rouge , louisiana is buddy romer, chairman of the reformproject.org and former louisiana governor . hi, buddy, always nice to see you.
>> hey, melissa , good to be with you. look, senator landrieu is not an all bad guy or all good guy in this. it seems to me that she, almost like everyone else in louisiana and mississippi and alabama, all along the gulf coast , even into florida is facing this quandary. how do we expect responsible political leadership when so much of the -- of the economy is tied to these oil and gas industries?
>> well, the industry was not regulated, melissa . they talk, talk, talk, but they don't take any action. i've been governor of louisiana . i've been a congressman from here. i have decent relationships with companies that work to gain energy for us. it's important for america. i don't dismiss this at all, but this speech by mary landrieu and others, and she's not the worst of them.
>> i want to be fair to her, washington's not broken, melissa . it's bought. the money that -- that comes in contributions to politicians is a scandal. now, there is an economic reality here. i think bp is one of the worst players in the gulf. i said that 25 years ago when i was governor of louisiana . i'm walking in downtown baton rouge the morning of this -- of this 5 million barrel spill and a member of the department of natural resources yells at me and says buddy, did you hear about the blowout in the gulf, i didn't know about it but i can tell you who is responsible. he said. who and i said british petroleum , and we both smiled. that's the way it is, and they ought to pay for the claims out there. they ought to pay for the damages. they ought to pay fines. they ought to pay penalties. they ought to put money set aside because we don't know what the effect on the wildlife is. look, i'm a businessman. i run a pretty large bank in the south, and the economic benefits of oil and gas energy is important to our area.
>> but we ought to ask a simple question. do we have the courage to regulate them? do we have the courage to put our children and our animals and our land continues first? i think we do, melissa . i think this administration has done a good job the last two years of bringing this into focus for the first time in my life.
>> and buddy, you know, this point about courage is a real one because as you point out about the boughtness of washington, oil lobbying, gas -- gas and oil lobbying dollars since 1990 , $238.7 million. we know that about half a million dollars to mary landrieu herself since 2007 . again, she's just one of many, many people getting this lobbying money, so it really is a question of whether or not you have the political capacity to say no to that money and to start talking about the regulation.
>> we ought to eliminate lobbyist contributions. we ought to have tax reform , not talking about raising the rates but doing away with all these loopholes. if you were to do away with these corporate loopholes, could you lower the marginal rate for every american, including the rich people , and they couldn't make a contribution to get a little loophole in the law. you know when the fiscal cliff thing that we did in december, obama and the congress finally did, big disaster. do you know buried in that bill, buried in that bill were hundreds of millions of dollars of additional loopholes for special corporations. it's not right, melissa . it's called corruption.
>> buddy roam emer, you always make it place.