NEWS RELEASE: Louisiana Governor Cuts Coastal Funds, Jeopardizing Coast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Lauren Bourg, National Audubon Society, 225.776.9838, lbourg@audubon.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.767.4181, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org

Louisiana Governor Cuts Coastal Funds, Jeopardizing Coast

Budget cuts will impact restoration programs and raises question of how state will pay for Coastal Plan

(New Orleans – January 21, 2015) On Wednesday, January 21, 2015, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced budget cuts including cuts to Louisiana coastal programs and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Agency (CPRA).

National and local conservation organizations committed to coastal Louisiana restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana  issued the following statement in response to announced budget cuts:

“In 2012 the Governor and legislature of the State of Louisiana embarked upon a fifty-year, $50 billion effort to avert a disaster for more than two million of our coastal citizens.  To date the state has managed to shield the agency leading that effort, CPRA, from budgetary politics. CPRA manages hundreds of millions of dollars in levee and restoration construction projects each year and is run on a small budget entirely supported by mineral revenues—nothing from the taxpayer-supported general fund.

“Clearly, Louisiana is facing a short term budgetary crisis, but CPRA is tackling a much more serious long- term crisis. If we lose the fight against the forces of coastal erosion, we lose our homes, our coastal towns and cities, our jobs, and we devastate our local and national economy. We are in the very early stages of developing the long-term strategies we’ll need to fund the plan—and we have a long way to go. In the meantime, cutting CPRA’s restoration and protection program support is short-sighted and ill-advised.

“Louisiana’s coastal region is an economic driver for the state and the front lines in protecting our state from storms and the encroaching Gulf of Mexico. Today’s budget cuts diminish the CPRA’s ability to do its job, putting communities at risk and slowing down restoration efforts.  These cuts are an unfortunate attempt to hastily balance a budget while potentially having lasting impacts on our coastal economy and safety of coastal residents.

“As the state begins to implement a fifty-year, $50 billion coastal master plan, now is not the time to be cutting funds from the coastal program. On the contrary, the governor and legislature should instead be laying out a vision for what new sources of funding will pay for this critical plan.

We look forward to working with this governor and future governors to protect our coast and develop new, long-term funding sources that can be used to implement the state’s coastal master plan.”

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Interview Opportunities: Interview opportunities are available with experts in coastal restoration and budget issues from our national and local conservation organizations.

Mississippi River Delta Restoration Experts:
David Muth, Director for Mississippi River Delta Restoration, National Wildlife Federation
Douglas J. Meffert, D. Env., MBA, Executive Director, National Audubon Society (Audubon Louisiana)
Kimberly Reyher, Executive Director, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Steve Cochran, Director for Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund