October 2015 Coastal Restoration Developments

October 2015

BP settlement plan

The previously announced settlement agreement between the U.S., 5 gulf States and BP has now moved to formal consent decree stage, with the details of the decree now available for public comment. For details and information on how you comment, please see this excellent summary by the Environmental Law Institute. The comment deadline is December 4, 2015.

Proposal to use coastal funds for LA Highway 1

I’ve already spoken to many of you directly about this issue, and several business partners joined our campaign’s display ad (copy attached) that ran today in Baton Rouge and New Orleans papers. This ad was in response to a proposal by Gov. Jindal, now pending before the state’s coastal agency, CPRA, to divert funds previously designated and promised for coastal restoration, for use on LA Highway 1 construction. We are concerned that this would create a dangerous precedent of tapping coastal restoration funds for other state needs, at a time when we still face a long term shortfall in reaching the funding that will be needed to fully implement the state’s coastal master plan. We are now hearing political support for NOT diverting the monies in the proposed manner, from all of the Louisiana gubernatorial candidates, as reported Friday 10-16-15 in the Advocate. This proposal will be voted on at the next CPRA meeting.

CPRA meeting expected to announce diversion priorities/actions

Also on the agenda for the next CPRA meeting is an announcement by CPRA of what its priority plans for diversions will be. While no major changes in past presentations are expected, we think this will be an important opportunity to hear what they are planning and prioritizing for actual construction and at what level. As the public moves beyond the simplistic (and uninformed) debate over ‘Are diversions good or bad?’ to the more thoughtful question of ‘How can diversions be built to maximize land building and minimize adverse impacts on stakeholders?’ the agency needs to demonstrate that it has growing public support. It is important that business that care about coastal restoration stay informed on these issues, and whenever possible, speak up in support of the full range of tools in the State Master Plan toolbox for stopping coastal erosion -- sediment pipelines, wetlands creation, barrier island strengthening, and river diversions, among others. Each type of project compliments and makes the other projects more sustainable in the long run, and all are needed.

 - Original content from James K. Wyerman, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Communications, Mississippi River Delta Program, Environmental Defense Fund