Conservation Groups Commemorate Katrina Anniversary by Urging President to Prioritize Restoration
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, email@example.com
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.767.4181, email@example.com
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservation Groups Commemorate Katrina Anniversary by Urging President Obama to Prioritize Restoration
Coastal Restoration Is Key to City’s Long-Term Resiliency, and Administration Has Opportunities to Advance Efforts
(NEW ORLEANS, LA—Aug. 26, 2015) As President Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush prepare to visit New Orleans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this week, national and local conservation groups working together on Mississippi River Delta restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – issued the following joint statement:
“In the coming days, President Obama, two former U.S. Presidents and other leaders will honor the thousands of lives lost and bring well-deserved attention to the progress Louisiana and the Gulf Coast have made since the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.
“However, the job here is far from finished. Louisiana’s coastal wetlands – its first line of defense against future storms and a key driver for the health of the Gulf – continue to vanish at the stunning rate of one football field an hour. We look to President Obama to prioritize restoration of Louisiana’s disappearing coast for the remainder of his term and in doing so, leave a legacy of lasting resilience for the region.
“President Obama and leaders across government must maximize the impact of restoration efforts by protecting existing revenue streams for restoration, ensuring that the parties involved are working together effectively and prioritizing funding for large-scale ecosystem projects that will most significantly benefit the region. The pending BP settlement provides a tremendous immediate opportunity to do that, with billions of dollars that can be dedicated now to the most critical ecosystem projects Gulf-wide, including substantial investments in the Mississippi River Delta.
“This is not just a Louisiana crisis, it’s a regional and national issue: Louisiana’s coast and its communities are powerful economic engines for shipping, energy, seafood and other industries that feed and fuel the nation and support millions of jobs across America.
“Katrina was the wake-up call. We certainly hope the Gulf Coast never has a repeat of that level of devastation. But unless meaningful coastal restoration moves forward and is funded for the long-term, we leave the people, wildlife and industries across the Louisiana coast at immense risk. And because of the flow of funds resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the President and his Administration have the opportunity to act now, to turn these twin disasters into a positive, lasting and meaningful legacy in the Gulf. “
- On July 2, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice and BP announced an agreement in principle on a global settlement that will resolve all remaining federal and state litigation relating to BP’s role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore oil disaster. BP will pay a total of $18.732 billion to settle these claims with $7.332 billion designated for Natural Resource Damages (in addition to the $1 billion BP already paid for early restoration efforts), $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties and $5.9 billion will cover economic damages to states and localities on the Gulf Coast. For more information on the agreement in principle, click here.
- If the agreement in principle with BP becomes final, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, an independent federal entity established by the RESTORE Act, will have more than $1 billion dollars to dedicate to critical ecosystem restoration projects across the Gulf in the near-term.
- Additionally, the Louisiana Coastal Area Program (LCA) represents another opportunity to construct large-scale ecosystem projects that increase coastal resilience. The Administration has requested U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) funding for the Louisiana Coastal Area Program (LCA) in previous years, and Fiscal Year 2017 is an opportune time to refocus on this critical program to maximize synergies with RESTORE Act funding and increase the overall impact of coastal restoration efforts in Louisiana.