Archive for Job Creation


IPCC report examines climate change’s effects on Mississippi River Delta and strategies for adaptation

August 5, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Community Resiliency, Economics, Hurricanes, Job Creation, Reports

By Keenan Orfalea, Communications Intern, Environmental Defense Fund

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” – President John F. Kennedy

The Mississippi River Delta – one of the largest and most productive wetland ecosystems in North America – is teeming with life, and this rich bounty has supported the development of unique cultures and traditions, alongside industry. At the same time, Louisiana’s fragile coastal wetland ecosystems are facing collapse. Today, the region also faces serious threats from global climate change, combined with other manmade impacts. Climate impacts could devastate Gulf fisheries, submerge critical infrastructure like Port Fourchon and imperil cities such as New Orleans. These outcomes are not inevitable, though, if meaningful action is taken.

Coastal wetlands are the first line of defense against climate change impacts such as storm surge. Unfortunately, the Mississippi River Delta has been losing wetlands at an alarming rate as a result of unsustainable river and coastal management practices. Since 1932, Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of land, and every hour, an area of land the size of a football field turns into open water.

While this gradual process may go unnoticed from day to day, the consequences became clear through the devastation of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Intact coastal wetlands could have protected against the force of these storms, because they have the potential to buffer storm surge. For communities that lie behind natural wetland barriers, restoring such ecosystems will increase communities’ resiliency and ability to thrive in the face of climate change.

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A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) focused on the observed and predicted effects of climate change as well as adaptation strategies. The report found strong evidence of variation in key environmental indicators over the past two decades and predicts that this variation is likely to continue into the future, generating increasingly severe effects over time. The report also explores what can be done to confront these new challenges and protect against the most extreme impacts.

For vulnerable, low lying areas like southern Louisiana, any effective adaptation plan will have to utilize multiple strategies simultaneously. Coastal wetland restoration will be one of the most important and cost effective tools for adapting to climate change.

There are costs associated with any restoration program, but strategic investment could produce economic gains for the entire Mississippi River Delta region. According to an analysis by The Center for American Progress and Oxfam America, long-term investment in ecosystem services returned $15 in value for every $1 spent. The same study found that an average of 17 jobs were created per $1 million in spending on ecosystem services, compared to only 9 jobs created from the same investment in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Adaptive coastal planning delivers further benefits by mitigating potential losses from storm damage and sea level rise. Taken together, the gains in human safety and economic stimulus stemming from adaptive planning far exceed the costs of any coastal restoration program. Embarking on this course of action will not only ensure the long-term sustainability of the Mississippi River Delta and its communities, but it could also lay the foundations for future economic development.

Climate change is a global problem, but the earliest and most severe developments will be felt in areas that are most exposed, like the low-lying and disappearing Mississippi River Delta. While mitigating the future impacts of climate change will require an international effort, adaptation must take place on the regional and local levels. Louisiana’s most pressing threats stem from its vanishing coastline. In order to meet the challenges of the future, policymakers and citizens must take immediate action in order to reverse this land loss crisis, because comfortable inaction is not an option.

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GNO, Inc. announces launch of Coalition for Coastal Resilience and Economy

July 15, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Economy, Job Creation

By Elizabeth Skree, Communications Manager, Environmental Defense Fund

Last Friday, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) announced the launch of the Coalition for Coastal Resilience and Economy (CCRE). CCRE is a coalition of Louisiana businesses and business leaders who are advocating for sustainable restoration of Louisiana’s disappearing coastal wetlands, deltas, rivers and coastline. This new business coalition will support an integrated three-legged framework of coastal restoration, appropriate structural flood mitigation and non-structural flood mitigation. The group includes representatives from a wide variety of business and industry sectors including banking, energy, real estate, entertainment, communications, navigation and manufacturing.

1280px-USACE_New_Orleans_skyline

Photo credit: Michael Maples, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Via U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Digital Visual Library

Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of wetlands, and the state continues losing land at the rate of one football field every hour. This loss is attributed to a host of causes, including oil and gas exploration, leveeing of the Mississippi River, hurricanes, coastal erosion and subsidence.

Louisiana's land loss crisis is not just an environmental problem – it is an economic crisis. Industries, businesses and communities in Louisiana depend on the delta for protection from storms and for a sustainable future. Thankfully, there are solutions to address and resolve this land loss crisis. And just as many causes contribute to Louisiana's land loss problem, it will take a combination of scientific solutions to resolve it.

Restoring the Mississippi River Delta will not only restore thousands of acres of protective wetlands and habitat, but it will also protect Louisiana businesses, cities and infrastructure. It will also create new and sustain existing jobs in the region. Find out more about how coastal restoration protects industries and creates economic growth at ourcoastoureconomy.org.

CCRE’s mission is to:

  • Promote the business case for coastal restoration in Louisiana
  • Maximize RESTORE Act funding and other federal funds that are allocated to Louisiana
  • Ensure that RESTORE Act funding and other federal funds are spent on their intended purposes
  • Leverage RESTORE Act funding and other federal funding to direct other revenue streams
  • Create opportunities to engage local businesses and workforce in implementation

“Water is the existential issue for Southeast Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Our region has a take-it-or-leave-it opportunity to make strategic investments in the environment today that will ensure continued economic growth and opportunity tomorrow, and CCRE will help ensure this happens.”

“Partnerships such as these allow the state to engage business interests and other stakeholders so that we can work together to achieve our goals of restoring and protecting this valuable resource, coastal Louisiana,” said Jerome Zeringue, Executive Director of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

CCRE is composed of a diverse group of CEOs and executives from the Greater New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Terrebonne-Lafourche regions. Members include:

  • Marty Mayer, President & CEO, Stirling Properties (CCRE Chair)
  • Justin Augustine, Regional Vice President, Veolia
  • Dale Benoit, Owner, Print-­‐All, Inc.
  • Rita Benson LeBlanc, Owner/Vice Chairman of the Board of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans
  • Sharon Bergeron, Vice President of Commercial Lending, Coastal Commerce Bank
  • Donna Fraiche, Founding Member of Baker Donelson’s Louisiana offices, Former Board Member of the Louisiana Recovery Authority
  • Fran Gladden, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, Cox Communications Southeast Region
  • Philip Gunn, Managing Director of New Orleans Office, Postlethwaite & Netterville
  • Will Hales, Assistant Vice President, Iberia Bank
  • Tara Hernandez, President, JCH Development
  • Merritt Lane, President & CEO, Canal Barge Company, Inc.
  • Jay Lapeyre, CEO, Laitram, LLC
  • G.F. Gay Le Breton, Managing Director, Chaffe & Associates
  • Brandon Nelson, Vice President of Commercial Banking, Whitney Bank
  • Mark Spansel, Partner, Adams & Reese
  • Lizette Terral, President, New Orleans Region, JP Morgan Chase Bank
  • Mickey Thomas, President & CEO, South Louisiana Bank
  • Brent Wood, State Government Affairs Manager, Chevron

“As a business leader in a coastal community, I believe it is critical to safeguard our current and future assets so that we can continue to expand and grow our businesses with confidence,” Sharon Bergeron, Vice President of Commercial Lending, Coastal Commerce Bank. “Yet while protection of our current economy is paramount, Southeast Louisiana is also in a unique position to expand our expertise of coastal restoration and export this specialized knowledge to new regions, thereby creating new jobs and new industries for Louisiana firms and residents.”

More information on the Coalition for Coastal Resilience and Economy can be found here: http://gnoinc.org/news/publications/press-release/gno-inc-announces-coalition-for-coastal-resilience-and-economy/.

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Wildlife tourism in Louisiana

September 5, 2013 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Job Creation, RESTORE Act, Wildlife tourism

This is the second post in a series about wildlife tourism and the Gulf Coast economy.

By Will Lindsey and Rachel Schott, Environmental Defense Fund

Datu Research LLC’s recently released report, “Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy,” shows how wildlife tourism is a vital component of the Gulf Coast economy and links the industry’s success to the health of the Gulf’s unique environment and ecosystems. Taking a closer look at the report allows one to see the full economic impact of wildlife tourism on each of the five Gulf Coast states as well as the businesses directly and indirectly associated with wildlife tourism in the region. In coastal areas, tourism jobs can account for 20-36 percent of all private sector employment.

Louisiana receives more than 2 million wildlife tourists every year, and the state’s coastal parishes host nearly 4,400 wildlife tourism-related businesses. Wildlife tourism includes recreational fishing, hunting and wildlife watching. These guide and outfitter companies, which tend be small businesses, have a big economic impact on their communities. There are also hundreds of lodging and dining establishments that cater to wildlife tourists, providing a significant cumulative impact on the local economy.

A Louisiana-based guide company, Lost Land Environmental Tours, is one such business that provides services for wildlife tourists by offering tours of the swamps and wetlands. Their guides engage with and educate customers on issues that threaten coastal Louisiana, such as wetlands loss and erosion, and provide information about the importance of preserving, protecting and rebuilding this valuable natural resource.

Lost Land is increasingly concerned about the ecological health of the Gulf, as it is directly tied to the viability of their business and other outdoor businesses. “We strive to show people the beauty and the lushness of our ecosystem,” said Marie Gould, co-founder of Lost Land. “We end up showing people small patches of the way things should be and a lot of dead and dying forests.”

Numerous wildlife tourism businesses stand to lose if coastal wetlands loss is not addressed with timely restoration projects. Funding from the RESTORE Act and other monies related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are expected to provide monetary support for these urgent projects. This funding is needed to protect and restore the natural environment as well as the economic viability of the entire Gulf Coast region.

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What is wildlife tourism?

August 23, 2013 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Job Creation, Reports, Wildlife tourism

This is the first in a series of posts about wildlife tourism and the Gulf Coast economy.

By Will Lindsey and Rachel Schott, Environmental Defense Fund

A new economic report by Datu Research LLC studied the important contribution that wildlife tourism provides to the economic vitality of 53 coastal counties and parishes across the Gulf Coast states. Wildlife tourism, which includes wildlife watching, recreational fishing and hunting, generates $19 billion per year in revenue for the Gulf Coast. Renowned for its unique culture and outdoor opportunities, the Gulf Coast environment provides world-class recreational activities for millions of tourists every year.

According to the report, “Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy,” more than 20 million people participate in these activities across the five Gulf Coast states every year. The study found that after taking into account businesses and economic sectors that rely on wildlife tourists, the industry produces more than $19 billion per year in revenue. This income is generated by a variety of industries, including guide and outfitter business as well as the lodging and restaurant establishments that provide services to wildlife tourists traveling to the area.

The study demonstrates that a healthy Gulf Coast is not only an important ecological resource for the region but is also a vital economic resource, providing more than $5.3 billion in tax revenues annually and numerous employment opportunities throughout the region. From sunbathing on the beaches of Alabama and Florida to fishing and hunting in Louisiana and Texas, tourists find enjoyment in the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast.

Yet this critically important wildlife recreation sector will continued to be threatened unless policy makers take bold steps to protect our eroding and degraded coastlines. “It is important that we take care of our most valuable natural assets,” said Mark Romig, President of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, at a press conference in New Orleans for the release of the report. “We need coastal restoration to protect our economic base… It’s right for the environment, right for business, right for people, and right for jobs.”

Knowing the economic impact of wildlife tourism on the Gulf Coast region makes coastal restoration even more essential and timely. Many people and businesses rely on the resources provided by the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast, and the economic viability of the area can be secured by ensuring the resiliency of this diverse, yet fragile, region for decades to come.

Investing in coastal restoration, as through the RESTORE Act and other monies stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, will help the Gulf Coast ecosystem as well as the tourism industry which depends on a healthy Gulf.

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May 3 Telebriefing: Next Steps for Increased Funding for Coastal Restoration

May 2, 2013 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in BP Oil Disaster, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Job Creation, Meetings/Events, RESTORE Act

Coast Builders Coalition and the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign will host a telebriefing on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 11 a.m. EST. Businesses and business associations seeking an update on the RESTORE Act, Deepwater Horizon settlement and the Gulf Council are encouraged to register. These issues will impact a wide range of businesses, from the coastal restoration companies that can expect to see increased demand for their services to the tourism companies that depend on a healthy Gulf ecosystem. All businesses are welcome and urged to attend.

An expert panel will provide the latest information on the RESTORE Act, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, the Deepwater Horizon trial and key legislative developments in the state of Louisiana. Topics to be covered include:

  • What can businesses expect and when?
  • What opportunities do businesses have to get involved in the process?
  • When can we expect the Council’s plan and what can we expect from this document?
  • When can we expect the Deepwater Horizon settlement funds being administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation? What can we expect from these funds?

We will provide guidance and recommendations for what advocates for coastal restoration are looking for from the Council moving forward. Please join us for 15-20 minutes of presentation, followed by discussion.

SPEAKERS:

Elizabeth Weiner
Senior Policy Manager, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program
Environmental Defense Fund
(Formerly Legislative Assistant for Water Resources Policy for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu)

Scott Kirkpatrick
President
Coast Builders Coalition

Whit Remer
Policy Analyst, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program
Environmental Defense Fund

Cynthia Duet
Director, Government Relations
Audubon Louisiana

If you are a business and are interested in participating in this telebriefing, please register at this link.

Please email Shannon Hood (shood@edf.org) with Environmental Defense Fund for more information.

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Path Forward plan must focus on ecosystem restoration

February 6, 2013 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Diversions, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, Job Creation, Reports, Restoration Projects, RESTORE Act, Science

By Whit Remer, Policy Analyst, Environmental Defense Fund

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council recently released "The Path Forward to Restoring the Gulf Coast: A Proposed Comprehensive Plan." The RESTORE Act, signed into law in July, required the newly created Restoration Council to publish a Proposed Plan within six months of the legislation becoming law. Only six pages in length, the Path Forward provides a general framework for the Restoration Council to follow while developing their more robust Initial Comprehensive Plan, due out in July 2013. Moving forward, it is important that the Restoration Council create a Comprehensive Plan concentrated on restoring Gulf Coast ecosystems, which are the backbone of a healthy and thriving gulf economy.

Following the 2010 gulf oil disaster, Congress passed the RESTORE Act to ensure robust restoration of the Gulf Coast. Through the RESTORE Act, Congress developed a framework for federal and state officials to undertake comprehensive restoration. Congress provided money for restoration by ensuring at least 30 percent of funds under the RESTORE Act are dedicated to ecosystem projects. To oversee much of the restoration, the RESTORE Act establishes a highly experienced body of federal and state stakeholders, known at the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Finally, the law requires the Restoration Council to develop a scientifically-based Comprehensive Plan to guide ecosystem restoration projects to implementation. The “Path Forward” document is a first step to building a plan for ecosystem restoration.

Allocation of RESTORE Act Funds (Source: The Path Forward to Restoring the Gulf Coast: A Proposed Comprehensive Plan).

As expected, and required by law, the Path Forward builds on the work and recommendations of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, which was led by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Task Force strategy had four overarching goals: habitat restoration, restore water quality, replenish marine resources and enhance community resilience. The newly released Path Forward adds a fifth goal of revitalizing the gulf economy. Moving forward, it is important for the Restoration Council to ensure that funds dedicated to the Comprehensive Plan are used solely for ecosystem restoration projects. After all, numerous studies have shown that ecosystem restoration supports economic restoration, including healthy tourism and fishing industries. New jobs created by the ecosystem restoration projects help protect existing infrastructure, rebuild critical wetlands, and create a new export industry focused on coastal and delta restoration.

Initial Comprehensive Plan Development Timeline (Source: The Path Forward to Restoring the Gulf Coast: A Proposed Comprehensive Plan).

We are excited about the Restoration Council’s commitment to long-term recovery in the gulf. In the Path Forward, the Restoration Council has reaffirmed their plans to invest in “specific actions, projects, and programs that can be carried out in the near-term to help ensure on-the-ground results to restore the overall health of the ecosystem.” By incorporating the best available science and adapting the Comprehensive Plan over time to incorporate new science, the plan can advance innovative ecosystem restoration solutions, like freshwater sediment diversions.

We look forward to the next draft of the Comprehensive Plan due out sometime before July.

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Time for BP to Make Things Right in the Gulf

September 6, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in Birds, BP Oil Disaster, Hurricane Isaac, Job Creation, RESTORE Act

By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund

In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, 12 miles of Louisiana coastline have been closed because of newly washed up tar balls. Though the oil still must be analyzed, many — including BP — say that these tar balls could be leftovers from the 2010 BP oil disaster. (Update: Tests taken today confirm that the oil is from the 2010 BP spill)

This tarball was found washed up on the shores of Elmer's Island on September 6, 2012. Tar balls have been a reality on Louisiana's coast for decades but Grand Isle residents say what was left on the beaches after Isaac was "a lot more than normal."

At the same time, the Department of Justice has filed a memo blasting BP and underscoring the federal case that BP may be held grossly negligent in its handling of the Macondo well — a designation that could have tremendous impact on the amount of RESTORE Act dollars that flow back to the gulf.

How many more stories do we need to read about oil washing ashore before BP steps up to the plate and makes things right? How many more beaches need to be closed before BP stops stalling and makes the gulf whole again?

BP must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law for their carelessness. The Gulf Coast’s ecosystems and economies depend on it. BP also needs to reach a settlement as soon as possible. The sooner a settlement happens, the sooner restoration can begin.

Despite what BP might want you to believe in its advertisements, the Gulf Coast is still hurting. The gulf environment and the people and businesses that depend on it are still reeling from the effects of the spill. And while it will take years to understand the full extent of the spill’s damage, we do know that the oil continues to show up on beaches in the form of tar balls and mats, has severely impacted bird nesting habitat, has negatively affected endangered sea turtles, is probably at least partly responsible for a spate of dolphin deaths, sped marsh erosion in heavily impacted areas and that dispersants used to break up the oil have harmed plankton – a key link in the ocean’s food web.

The communities, businesses and wildlife of the Gulf Coast depend on a healthy environment for survival. Environmental restoration also provides economic restoration. By creating jobs and adding value throughout coastal economies, the same wetlands that protect coastal communities can also sustain them. The sooner a settlement can be reached, the sooner restoration funds can be made available and the sooner businesses and communities can get back on their feet and start recovering.

BP’s job in the gulf is not finished. It is time for BP to stop stalling and make the gulf whole again. For a region that has suffered so much, it’s the right thing to do.

 

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The RESTORE Act: Past, present and future

August 14, 2012 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Clean Water Act, Congress, Diversions, Job Creation, Restoration Projects, RESTORE Act, Seafood, Senator Mary Landrieu

By Whit Remer, Policy Analyst, Environmental Defense Fund

It’s been an exciting year for Louisiana and the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign.

In July 2011, nine gulf senators banded together and introduced the RESTORE Act – legislation that would ensure penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the gulf oil spill would be used to restore the gulf region’s environment and economy. In September, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the bill and in October, Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) and 20 other gulf representatives introduced the House version of the bill. Supporters worked hard and waited patiently as the RESTORE Act continued winding its way through congressional hearings and historic votes until finally, on June 29, 2012, the RESTORE Act was included as part of the final transportation bill and days later signed into law by the President. It was an amazing journey from start to finish, and we want to take a moment to reflect on the past year and begin looking forward to how the RESTORE Act will unfold to become the single largest environmental restoration investment ever made by Congress.

Sen. Mary Landrieu introduces Rep. Steve Scalise, who led the RESTORE Act effort in the House, during a Capitol Hill event marking its passage. Photo courtesy of Sen. Landrieu.

The idea of spending penalty money from the oil spill on environmental and economic restoration in the gulf region is only fair. Diverse groups, including conservation organizations, the Secretary of the Navy, chambers of commerce from across the gulf region and even a special commission created by the President in response to the spill, all agreed it was the right thing to do. Heeding this call, Congress came together to design a bill to return the money where it belongs: to the Gulf Coast. In the Senate, the RESTORE Act received 76 votes – a remarkable display of bipartisanship which highlights the broad support had by the bill. Of course, it could not have happened without our campaign’s supporters, who used social media, letters to the editor and appeals to their congressional representatives to make the bill a top priority.

Looking forward, we are excited that the RESTORE Act has the potential to make the environment and economies of the Gulf Coast healthy again. The RESTORE Act includes a list of various eligible activities that states may use funds for, ranging from coastal restoration and shoreline protection to seafood and tourism promotion. All of these activities will provide new job opportunities for residents along the Gulf Coast and across the nation. As a recent Duke University report shows, the RESTORE Act is a win for the entire country.

The RESTORE Act also sets up a Restoration Council comprised of various federal agencies and states affected by the spill to create an environmental restoration plan for the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast. The plan has the potential to address major, and very expensive, challenges in the Mississippi River Delta. A top funding priority in the plan for Louisiana will be designing and constructing large-scale sediment diversions along the lower Mississippi River. Sediment diversions provide wetlands with essential supplies of fresh water and new silt which help rebuild land and protect the coast.

Over the next few months, the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign will update readers on important RESTORE Act developments. We hope to provide you with useful information as the Restoration Council forms and begins the important process of creating a restoration plan for America’s Gulf Coast.

Stay tuned.

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How much is a Louisiana oyster worth?

August 1, 2012 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Economics, Job Creation, Restoration Projects, Science, Seafood

By Meg Sutton, Environmental Defense Fund

Oyster reefs in coastal estuaries around the globe have been degraded for the past 100-200 years due to a combination of overfishing, harmful dredging practices, decreasing water quality, sedimentation and oyster diseases.1 Many formerly productive reefs are now functionally extinct, and it is estimated that 85 percent of reefs have been lost globally.2 The majority of commercial oysters are currently sourced from only five eco-regions in the world, concentrated on the east coast of North America and the northern Gulf of Mexico.2 In Louisiana, restoration of oyster reefs has been proposed to both mitigate the decline in stocks and to secure a number of co-benefits which oysters provide. Such restoration has an associated cost which has some asking: How much is an oyster worth?

Oyster reef restoration in Alabama. Source: NOAA Fisheries

Restoration of oyster reefs in the gulf would impart several benefits to the region including increases in oyster and fish stocks, improved water quality, erosion control, storm attenuation and economic stimulus for local businesses. Each of these benefits has an associated economic value and should be factored into the decision to bring oyster reef restoration to scale.

The most readily apparent economic benefit of oyster reef restoration is an increase in, or maintenance of, primary oyster productivity. Louisiana is the leading oyster producing state in the U.S., supporting an oyster industry that generates $35 million in dockside value annually.3 Additionally, oyster reefs serve as refuge and feeding ground for many estuarine species including fish, mobile crustaceans and invertebrates. This ecosystem benefit is especially pertinent along the Louisiana coast, where oyster reefs are the primary three-dimensional habitats available. In Louisiana, 23 percent of annual marine fishing occurs over oyster beds, and these areas provide approximately $2 million (2003 dollars) in fisheries value annually for coastal Louisiana.4

Oysters are filter feeders, and this filtration notably reduces the turbidity and nitrogen loading of their surrounding water. Reduction of turbidity — the removal of suspended solids — has been shown to have a significant recreational value for boating and beach swimming. The willingness to pay for reduction in bacteria and oil, as well as improvement in water color for beach goers, was estimated to be $23.39 per person per year.5 In a study of the Choptank River in Maryland, the economic value of the nitrogen removed by an oyster over a ten-year interval was found to be greater than the dockside value of the oyster.6 In a separate analysis, an acre of healthy oyster reef was estimated to yield $3,000 in de-nitrification value annually.7

Oyster ecosystem impacts. Source: NOAA

Additionally, the three-dimensional oyster reef structure attenuates wave energy, which can reduce erosion rates. Oyster reefs are generally understood to dampen wave energy by creating frictional energy between their rough outer surfaces and the wave. The associated economic value of wave attenuation is hard to determine, as it varies based on location. One factor to consider, however, is that the Gulf of Mexico has over 8,000 miles of shoreline that are at risk for erosion.8 Erosion rates and risk of flooding due to storm surge will continue to increase over time with global climate change, environmental degradation and subsidence of the area. If we choose to armor these shorelines, the current option is to install a bulkhead. Bulkheads can cost up to $1 million per mile, while oyster cultch placement — a common method for oyster reef restoration — can be completed for one-third of the cost.8

The industrial and commercial activity that would be generated by large-scale gulf oyster restoration will additionally boost the economy in the Gulf Coast and provide new job opportunities in the gulf and in 17 other states.9 Such restoration efforts would generally benefit small businesses, creating opportunities for local residents to both build new business and contribute to the sustainability of their region.

Restoration of oyster reefs may be necessary to maintain oyster landings in Louisiana, and it would also contribute to the sustainability of the region through ecological co-benefits, shoreline protection and economic stimulus. While these benefits may be difficult to generalize to a per-oyster dollar value, it is clear that the overwhelming co-benefits of oyster reef restoration in Louisiana should be considered in conjunction with the total cost of restoration.


1 Grabowski, J.H. & Peterson, C.H. Restoring oyster reefs to recover ecosystem services. Theoretical Ecology Series 281-298 (Elsevier Academic Press: Burlington, MA, 2007).

2 Beck, M.W. et al. Oyster Reefs at Risk and Recommendations for Conservation, Restoration, and Management. BioScience 61, 107-116 (2011).

3 Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Oyster Stock Assessment Report. (Baton Rouge, LA, 2010).

4 Henderson, J. & O’Neil, J. Economic Values Associated with Construction of Oyster Reefs by the Corps of Engineers. United States Army C (2003).

5 Freeman, A.M.I. The Benefits of Water Quality Improvements for Marine Recreation : A Review of the Empirical Evidence. 10, 385-406 (1995).

6 Newell, R., Fisher, T., Holyoke, R. & Cornwell, J. Influence of Eastern Oysters on Nitrogen and Phosphorus Regeneration in Chesapeake Bay, USA. The comparative roles of Suspension Feeders in Ecosystems 47, 93-120 (2005).

7 Piehler, M.F. & Smyth, A.R. Habitat-specific distinctions in estuarine denitrification affect both ecosystem function and services. Ecosphere 2, (2011).

8 National Fish and Wildlife Federation. Toward a Healthy Gulf of Mexico: A Coordinated Strategy for Oyster Restoration in the Gulf. 1-6 (2012).

9 Duke Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness. Stokes, S., Wunderink, S., Lowe, M. & Gereffi, G. Restoring Gulf Oyster Reefs: Opportunities for Innovation (2012).

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New online content illustrates economic benefits of environmental restoration

July 31, 2012 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Economy, Job Creation, RESTORE Act

Did you know that coastal restoration helps not just the environment but also the economy? Restoration activities, like the construction of sediment diversions, coastal dredging and barrier island restoration, directly create jobs through the firms hired to carry out the projects.

Additionally, Louisiana’s coast supports a $34 billion tourism industry, 33 percent of our nation’s seafood harvest, 10 of our 15 largest ports and 90 percent of our offshore crude oil and natural gas production.1 Coastal restoration protects these industries by keeping ecosystems intact and protecting and restoring the natural barriers against storm surge and other natural disasters.

Here at the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign, we are committed to highlighting how restoring the Gulf Coast will not only rejuvenate an ailing ecosystem but also create new jobs and revitalize the gulf’s economy – an environmental and economic win-win.

Recently, economists with Environmental Defense Fund and Duke University have identified how coastal restoration provides quadruple economic returns by supporting jobs in multiple sectors. To better break this down, we have built a suite of Web pages called “Building a Restoration Economy” to show the different areas where jobs can be created:

A healthy coastal ecosystem is vital for the gulf’s economy and has the potential to create thousands of jobs in new, high-paying sectors, and with the recent passage of both the Louisiana 2012 Coastal Master Plan and the RESTORE Act, large-scale restoration will come sooner rather than later. For an ailing economy and wounded ecosystem, this is great news.

To learn more about our how coastal restoration provides quadruple economic returns, visit “Building a Restoration Economy.”

Map: Relevant U.S. employee locations of firms linked to Gulf Coast restoration projects

  1. http://www.mississippiriverdelta.org/files/2012/07/CGGC_Gulf-Coast-Restoration.pdf
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