Gov. Edwards: Louisiana in a race against time to save the coast

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Gov. John Bel Edwards has released details on proposed legislation for protecting and restoring Louisiana’s coast. These proposals are part of the governor’s legislative package that will be considered in the Regular Session that is set to begin on April 10.

“We should all be proud of the plan we are putting forward today, one that utilizes cutting edge science and extensive public and stakeholder outreach, to address the complex challenges that face our coast,” said Gov. Edwards. “This is a plan for all of Louisiana, not just one agency and not just for the coast. Implementing this plan will reduce risk and build and sustain land for the benefit of all of our people, our economy and our ecosystem for generations to come. We are in a race against time to save our coast, and it is time we make bold decisions now. I look forward to discussing these plans with the legislature.”

The two measures will be introduced as concurrent resolutions and specifically address the Coastal Master Plan and the Coastal Annual Plan. Both will be pre-filed this week.

The Coastal Master Plan recommends 120 projects that will build or maintain more than 800 square miles of land and reduce expected damage by $8.3 billion annually by 2067. The state’s coastal master plan, which is updated every five years in accordance with state law, is an ambitious plan that responds to the potentially severe loss of our coastal land from damaging storm surge events. The concurrent resolution, which will be co-authored by Senate President John Alario and Senator Dan Morrish, contains the Flood Risk and Resilience Program that focuses on proactive investments that will provide flood proofing of more than 1,400 structures, elevation of more than 22,500 structures, and voluntary acquisition of approximately 2,400 structures in areas that are most at risk. Here are some additional key points:

The plan dedicates nearly $18 billion to marsh creation using dredged material.

It dedicates $5 billion to sediment diversions.

More than $2 billion will be used for other types of restoration projects.

$19 billion will go towards hurricane protection projects and $6 billion for nonstructural risk reduction.

Since 2007, the State of Louisiana has completed or funded for construction a total of 135 projects, resulting in nearly 31,000 acres of land benefited, 275 miles of levee improvements and over 50 miles of barrier islands and berms constructed or under construction.

The Coastal Annual Plan must be submitted by the Coastal Restoration Protection Authority (CPRA) to the state legislature. This concurrent resolution, which will be authored by Representative Jerome Zeringue, outlines the CPRA’s funding priorities and provides a three year outlook on revenues and expenditures. The Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Plan includes $644 million in expenditures, with 30 projects currently scheduled to begin or continue construction in FY18. Of the 27 projects scheduled to be under construction in FY 2018 some of the largest include: NRDA Caillou Lake Headlands ($118 M), Lost Lake Marsh Creation and Hydrologic Restoration ($35.8 million), Jean Lafitte tidal protection ($29.4 million), and  Rosethorne Tidal protection ($22.9 million). It also calls for the following:

$371 Million for construction

$122.8 million for engineering and design

$97.3 million for operation, maintenance, monitoring

$33.2 million for operating costs

$31.9 million ongoing programs and initiatives and

$6.7 million for planning

“In the Coastal Master Plan and inside this year’s Annual Plan we are witnessing a transformation of our program,” said Johnny Bradberry, Governor’s Executive Assistant for Coastal Activities . “By utilizing revenues from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and other federal funding sources like GOMESA, this agency will be undertaking the largest ecosystem restoration program in the country while also constructing the levees and flood walls that our communities desperately need.”

Click here to read the Annual Plan.

Click here to read the Coastal Master Plan.

Gov. Edwards’s full legislative package for the Regular Session will be unveiled throughout the week. The coastal restoration package can be found here. This page will be updated throughout the week with additional proposals from the governor.

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