Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statement on the passage of two measures that will aid in protecting Louisiana’s valuable coast. 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.”
Today, the Louisiana House of Representatives approved, SCR1, a resolution approving the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. With this vote, the third iteration of the State’s Coastal Master Plan has been approved by both chambers of the Louisiana State Legislature and can begin to be implemented.
Kimberly Davis Reyher, Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) released the following statement upon passage of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan:
“The passage of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan proves that saving coastal Louisiana from our ongoing land loss crisis isn’t a partisan issue. We applaud our lawmakers for having the foresight to move forward with the plan because it serves as the blueprint for ensuring that our culture, industry, economy and way of life can flourish now and in the future.
“The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has done a lot of hard work to craft a plan that gives us a roadmap of restoration and protection that incorporates science with public input. But just having a plan isn't enough. Now we must implement it. Otherwise, Louisiana will continue to wash into the Gulf forcing communities to retreat and livelihoods to be lost.
“The cornerstone of the master plan is sediment diversions that harness the power of the Mississippi River to rebuild land by constructing diversions to release water and sediment into our disappearing wetlands.
“CRCL has been calling for sediment diversions since 1989 when we released our report ‘Here today and Gone Tomorrow?’ We are now within years of constructing of the first such project, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, which may very well be the most important environmental construction project in the history of our country. It has taken more than a quarter century to get to this point, due to many factors, not the least of which is the enormity of the challenge. We can’t wait any longer.
“The passage of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan sets us on a course of ambitious implementation. This third iteration of the master plan continues to build on the best available science to ensure that Louisiana can leverage available funds to make wise, urgent choices that will build land, slow erosion, buffer our coast against storms and protect infrastructure.”