The death of Billy Guste, who served as Louisiana’s attorney general from 1972 to 1992, is an occasion to remember Guste’s continuing legacy, which touches Louisiana residents throughout the state.
Guste spearheaded efforts to secure a greater share of proceeds from mineral production off Louisiana’s coast. The landmark “8 (g) lawsuit” resulted in a settlement with the federal government that has brought more than a billion dollars to the coffers of state government. That money is continuing to help fund education programs in elementary and secondary schools, as well as Louisiana’s public universities.
Guste was also an early advocate for environmental protection, using his office to hold polluters accountable at a time when state government was largely compliant to industry’s wishes. His activism helped raise the standard of environmental stewardship in a state with a checkered history of acquiescence to ecological abuses.
Much work remains to be done in protecting Louisiana’s air, land and water. Louisiana is a better state because of Guste’s willingness to undertake that important work for two decades.