Governor Jindal Meets With Secretary Mabus, Urges Implementation Of Coastal Restoration Plan

From a release out of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office…

BURAS – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal met with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus – who has been charged by President Obama with developing a long-term recovery plan for the Gulf Coast – to discuss the Governor’s Agenda to Revitalize Louisiana which sets a pathway forward for restoring Louisiana’s coast through four priority initiatives. These four initiatives include a comprehensive coastal restoration plan which the Governor urged Secretary Mabus to implement. Following the meeting, the Governor joined Secretary Mabus for a press availability.

Previously, the Governor took Secretary Mabus for a flyover of coastal Louisiana to get a firsthand view of the oil impact and the state’s coastal erosion problems. At their meeting today, Governor Jindal continued to stress the need for quick action to restore Louisiana’s coast.

Governor Jindal said, “We had a good meeting with Secretary Mabus. I appreciate him coming down to Louisiana again and taking the time to meet with our people at town halls so he can learn firsthand about our recovery needs. Last time Secretary Mabus was down, we took him on a coastal tour to view the oil impact as well as the continued erosion problem across the coastline.

“Since we last met, we launched our Agenda to Revitalize Louisiana which sets a pathway forward for restoring our coast through four priority initiatives: implementing a coastal restoration plan, certifying Louisiana’s seafood and getting fishermen back on the water, lifting the moratorium so Louisiana can refuel America and holding BP accountable until Louisiana’s wildlife, air and marshes are completely restored. As we have before, we talked to Secretary Mabus today about the importance of quickly implementing a coastal restoration plan without years of more studies.

“We know what needs to be done to restore our coast. The reality is that the legwork has been done and we simply cannot afford years of more studies.  Yet we continue to face red tape. In fact, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has missed over 15 statutory deadlines and this has contributed to our loss in coastal Louisiana.  Our coast simply doesn’t have time to be bogged down in bureaucracy. In fact, our best scientists say we only have ten years or less to save our coast.  I know Secretary Mabus agrees that the time for studies is over. That’s why it’s important that we finally get to the business of turning dirt.”

The Governor highlighted the specifics of the coastal restoration plan included in his Agenda to Revitalize Louisiana.

Governor Jindal said, “As part of our Agenda to Revitalize Louisiana, the main component of our coastal restoration plan is to simply implement the $9 billion in coastal projects that have already been authorized by Congress for construction.  Sadly, these projects are ready-to-go, but they are stuck because of a lack of federal funding, despite the fact that the state has already dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to these efforts.

Indeed, a total of 18 coastal restoration, hurricane and flood protection and freshwater diversion projects have already been authorized for construction. We need the federal government to fund these authorized projects as soon as possible so we can get to work on restoring our coast.”

Governor Jindal said he is working with coastal leaders and the state’s federal delegation to ensure that these projects are immediately funded through a variety of funding mechanisms, including:

  • First – Louisiana is asking for a commitment of $250 million from previously-appropriated mitigation funds for hurricane protection repairs related to Hurricane Katrina to be dedicated to key restoration projects immediately.
  • Second – The state is requesting an immediate investment from BP to begin addressing Natural Resource Damage Assessment remediation actions through coastal wetlands recovery and restoration.
  • Third – The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act funding should be moved up to the current fiscal year rather than have the federal government wait until 2017 to share these funds with the Gulf states. The deepwater drilling moratorium only exacerbates the state’s coastal challenges.  Under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, offshore energy revenues are shared with the state.  With a moratorium on new offshore production, these revenues are further delayed and it creates additional uncertainty that prevents Louisiana’s ability to bond the revenue stream.  Under the state’s constitution, these funds are dedicated to coastal restoration and hurricane protection.
  • Fourth – Part of funding these authorized coastal protection projects should also come from annual federal resource agency funds for construction of the above projects.
  • Fifth –Under the Clean Water Act, BP is liable for fines attributable to the discharge of oil into the environment/water. The state anticipates that the fines associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will total into the billions of dollars. These funds from BP could be put towards “Supplemental Environmental Projects” which would include coastal restoration projects. The state has requested that BP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency work together with the state to develop a supplemental environmental project program

The Governor also said that this investment should be combined with eliminating federal policies that conflict with coastal restoration projects.  For example, the Army Corps of Engineers spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year dredging navigation channels in south Louisiana so over 30 states can import and export maritime commerce.  However, the material dredged from these channels is then dumped in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico rather than placed back into our coastal area where wetlands could be restored. It is estimated that if dredge material were placed in our coastal area, we could build 12-16 square miles of land annually.

FACTS & FIGURES ON LOUISIANA’S COASTAL EROSION PROBLEM

Louisiana’s coast has been challenged by four major hurricanes and now an oil spill within the past five years and has been eroding for 80 years.  Indeed, in the last five years alone, coastal Louisiana lost an estimated 225,000 to 250,000 acres of land – which is equivalent to six and a half times the size of Washington, D.C.  The replacement cost of these lost coastal wetlands is estimated to be over $15 billion, which is an estimated $65,000 an acre for restoration.

Since the 1930s, when levees were installed on the lower Mississippi River system, Louisiana has lost an average of up to 29 square miles of coastal lands annually. This means that every day since the 1930s, the state has lost coastal wetlands that will cost an estimated $3.3 million a day to replace. Nearly 29,000 days have passed since the early 1930s and total replacement costs since then is now estimated to be about $96 billion.

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