Legal Action from the State on Mid-Barataria Delays Will Be Necessary Without Agreement

To avoid continued devastating land loss, Plaquemines Parish needs action, not politics

(NEW ORLEANS – June 20, 2018)  Earlier today, Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Board voted to proceed with legal action to ensure continued progress on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion if the State could not come to an agreement with the Plaquemines Parish government.

The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, a cornerstone Master Plan coastal restoration project that has been studied for decades, is currently in Engineering & Design and undergoing robust reviews by the Army Corps of Engineers and other parties through the National Environmental Policy Act. The project will reconnect the Mississippi River with nearby wetlands to build and maintain tens of thousands of acres of land over time. The project is part of Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan, an essential blueprint to protect and restore the Louisiana coastline that is currently losing a football field of land every 100 minutes.

Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier is blocking progress on the project, denying permits needed by CPRA to conduct soil borings as part of the Engineering & Design process.  Ironically, this work is part of the effort to directly answer legitimate questions about the project. 

Restore the Mississippi River Delta – a coalition of national and local conservation organizations committed to coastal Louisiana restoration including Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – issued the following statement in response:

“What Plaquemines Parish needs at this moment is progress, not delays. As the parish experiences some of the worst land loss in the state, the one luxury it does not have is time.

“Unfortunately, the actions of President Cormier to prevent routine evaluations from occurring as part of the environmental review of the project is costing the parish and all of its residents time and threatening the future existence of this special place.

“While legal action is never the preferred route, our groups hope that the State and the Parish can come to a quick agreement to move this process forward as it is too important to the future of Plaquemines Parish and the future of our state to let politics continue to get in its way.

“The irony is that Plaquemines Parish has running through it what few other parishes in the state have access to – the Mississippi River and its 100 million tons of sediment that flow through it each year. The river built Plaquemines Parish, and its only hope for continuing to survive in the face of hurricanes, saltwater intrusion and sea level rise is using the river to again build and maintain land.

“Any alternative without using sediment diversions to capture and deliver this badly-needed sediment will see the remaining coastal wetlands in Plaquemines Parish disappear and the Gulf of Mexico lapping at the levees of Belle Chasse. Unless we act now, Barataria Basin will lose an additional 550 square miles of land in the next 50 years.

“Whether you’re a Plaquemines Parish homeowner seeking protection that additional wetlands can provide, or a fisherman who wants to see a healthy, productive estuary in the future, all of us should be doing everything in our power to get this project constructed."


Contact:
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, eskree@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org

Restore the Mississippi River Delta is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at MississippiRiverDelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.