09/14/2010 03:18 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gulf Coast Restoration: Where Does Obama Stand?

LONDON -- Okay, game on. Louisiana's Democrats and Republicans have come together to propose something that should be uncontroversial -- that 80% of the fines BP is to pay for fouling the Gulf Coast should go to the affected states for a program of...Gulf Coast restoration. Otherwise, the money would just get dumped into the federal budget.

This initiative confronts President Obama with a stark choice: He can grab the money for a federal budget in deep deficit doo-doo, or he can climb on board to support the states which have borne the brunt of the damage caused, in part, by the lax regulatory environment which the (former) Minerals Management Service fostered, under both Bush and (until the spill) Obama. (Louisiana has also borne a slow-motion disaster over several decades in the severe erosion of the coastal wetlands, triggered in part by the federal program to levee the Mississippi and thus cut off the flow of replenishing sediment to those marshes.)

In the context of the platitudinously encouraging words the President spoke in New Orleans just a couple of weeks ago, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the federally-caused flood in the city, it would be refreshing to see, for a change, the federal government helping to make things better along the Gulf Coast, instead of worse.