Coastal groups call on legislature to protect funding for flood protection and coastal restoration
Coastal investments will reduce impacts of hurricanes, while stimulating the economy and creating jobs
NEW ORLEANS (May 19, 2020) – Yesterday, Louisiana’s House Appropriations Committee approved House Bill No. 2, the state’s Capital Outlay bill. The bill annually provides the funds for constructing projects across the state, projects that are needed more than ever because they provide jobs and stimulus to local economies. An amendment was added in committee that removed $117 million of 2018-19 surplus funds that had been included for the state’s Coastal Trust Fund. With those dollars, the state planned to help fund 13 flood protection and coastal restoration projects across the coast, including the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project and other protection projects in Terrebonne, Vermilion and Cameron Parishes, and a number of restoration projects, such as the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion.
As HB-2 advances toward a vote on the House floor, 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:
“We understand the desire to save money, and that is exactly what investing in our coast does. These investments would provide economic stimulus and create jobs at a time when our state desperately needs both, even before they save lives and reduce the economic toll of future disasters.
“With our oil and gas and tourism industries reeling, the need to diversify Louisiana’s economy has never been more clear. The coastal sector is one of the strongest growth sectors of Louisiana’s economy and one of the few economic bright spots in recent years. The coastal sector is funded almost entirely by outside, non-state funding sources, but generates jobs and tax revenues within our state. By investing state surplus dollars into the coast, Louisiana can leverage additional federal sources of funding that will allow the state to protect people from flooding and create jobs.
“With the start of another hurricane season, the Legislature’s decision to take funding away from flood protection and coastal restoration projects is severely misguided and dangerous. With the Gulf of Mexico inching closer every day and with certain coastal communities being one hurricane away from disappearing, now is not the time to take funding from our coast.
“That is why time and again, Louisiana voters have made it clear that they want elected officials to prioritize flood protection and coastal restoration and protect coastal funding. Our Legislature owes it to the people of Louisiana, who have been through too many disasters, to protect coastal funding and prevent our people from experiencing the worst impacts of future disasters.”
- According to a recent analysis by Dr. Loren C. Scott & Associates, Inc., the construction of two restoration projects alone will support nearly 4,000 jobs, deliver $56.6 million in revenues to the State of Louisiana and increase regional business sales by $3.1 billion.
- A statewide poll of high-frequency Louisiana voters found that 97% of respondents want their elected officials to protect funding for coastal restoration and protection and 96% want their elected officials to prioritize coastal restoration and protection while in office.
- A National Institutes of Building Sciences study found that every $1 invested in disaster mitigation saves $6 in disaster recovery.
- A 2013 study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Habitat Conservation evaluated the economic impact of ARRA-funded coastal habitat restoration projects. The researchers found that the “projects created, on average, 17 jobs per million dollars spent,” which was “much higher than other traditional industries including coal, gas, and nuclear energy generation.” Furthermore, “habitat restoration has longer-term economic benefits, including future job creation in rebuilt fisheries and coastal tourism, and benefits to coastal economies including higher property values and better water quality.”
About Restore the Mississippi River Delta:
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.
Jacques Hebert, Environmental Defense Fund, 504.250.3699, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Bourg, National Audubon Society, 225.776.9838, email@example.com
Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation, 504.442.2702, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Karst, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 504.220.7899, email@example.com
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, firstname.lastname@example.org