Louisiana Coastal Area Funding Included in Omnibus Spending Bill

By Elizabeth Mabry, Senior Policy Manager, Ecosystems, Environmental Defense Fund

Sediment being pumped onto the headland and being shaped by a bulldozer. Credit: CPRA.

Last night, U.S congressional leaders released a $1-trillion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government through the end of September. Congress is expected to approve the bill later this week.

While the omnibus bill includes spending for numerous federal programs, of note for Louisiana is the inclusion of dedicated funding for the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) program. The bill includes $9 million for the LCA Beneficial Use of Dredged Materials (BUD Mat) program and $520,000 for LCA general investigations. Our Louisiana congressional delegation has consistently supported LCA funding in a bipartisan manner, and we commend them for that continued leadership.

Partnership with the federal government is critical to Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts, and dedicated LCA funding is a promising demonstration of ongoing federal commitment. When the Mississippi River is dredged for maintenance and navigation, that dredged sediment can be used to help restore coastal wetlands because of programs like LCA. The state has also included numerous LCA projects in its Coastal Master Plan, so we hope this Fiscal Year 2017 funding agreement will transcend into future fiscal years and additional LCA projects.

Federal investments in Louisiana coastal restoration are important not only for Louisiana but for the entire nation that depends on the region for oil and gas, shipping, fisheries and other vital industries. A recent LSU study showed that without coastal restoration, $3.6 billion in infrastructure replacement costs and $7.6 billion in business disruption costs would be at risk.