Louisiana passes updated 50-year coastal plan balancing conservation and restoration

On June 2, 2017, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement on the passage of two measures that will aid in protecting Louisiana’s valuable coast.

With this, the Legislature approved the latest update of the state’s 50-year, $50 billion coastal master plan, which divides spending almost 50-50 between coastal restoration and conserving what’s left of the state’s wetlands from erosion and hurricanes.

Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1 by Sen. Dan Morrish and Senate President John Alario will establish the comprehensive master plan for coastal protection, and House Resolution (HR) 1 by Rep. Jerome Zeringue sets the funding priorities for that plan. The Senate previously passed Senate Resolution (SR) 1 by Rep. Morrish, the companion bill to Rep. Zeringue’s.

The work state lawmakers have done is commendable and necessary as we move forward with saving and protecting Louisiana’s coast,” said Gov. Edwards. “Louisiana, and the country, rely heavily on our coast. It provides jobs, protection and homes to citizens and natural inhabitants alike, and we have an obligation to restore and protect it. These bills are necessary to ensure that will continue to happen. I’m thankful to the legislators who took the lead in preserving and improving our living and lasting legacy.

Every five years, the state’s coastal master plan is updated in accordance with state law. The 2017 Coastal Master Plan provides a path to respond to the loss of our coastal land and the threats from storm surges. Here are the recommendations:

  • Calls for 124 projects that build or maintain more than 800 square miles of land.
  • Reduce expected damage by $8.3 billion annually by year 50 and that are expected to pay for themselves three times over the course of implementing the plan.
  • Dedicates nearly $18 billion to marsh creation.
  • Provides $5 billion to sediment diversions.
  • More than $2 billion will be used for other types of restoration projects.
  • Commits $19 billion for hurricane protection projects and $6 billion for nonstructural risk reduction.

It is important to have a plan in place that responds to both the needs of our coast and our communities that rely on it for their livelihoods,” said Sen. Morrish. “As we move forward, we must do all that we can to sustain and enhance the shoreline protection. Not only that, but this plan will help Louisiana become competitive for much needed federal dollars to further assist us in saving our coast.

Time is of the essence when it comes to saving Louisiana’s coast,” said Sen. Alario. “Having this plan is paramount to charting the right course for the future development of our state’s precious resources and people.

In addition, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is required to submit an annual plan (SR1 and HR1) to the legislature to detail its funding priorities for the next fiscal year and provide a three-year outlook on revenues and expenditures. The FY18 Annual Plan includes $644 million in expenditures, with 30 projects currently scheduled to begin or continue construction in FY18.

This will continue the good work of the CPRA which is critical to the sustainability of our coast, and the natural resources for the people who depend on it,” said Rep. Zeringue. “In addition, we’re also mitigating impacts of the oil spill and creating resiliency within our coastal communities.

We have funding for the near future, but need to assure we receive the long-term funds we’ve been promised,” said CPRA Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry. “We are also pursuing additional sources of long-term revenue, and equally important, methods of accelerating the permitting processes in order to expedite project implementation.

Photo of Gulf of Mexico mangrove restoration via Adobe Stock.

See Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority website.

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