Archive for State Legislature


Conservation Groups Praise Governor Edwards’ Executive Order on Coastal Master Plan

April 4, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, coastal restoration, Media Resources, State Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org

Conservation Groups Praise Governor Edwards’ Executive Order on Coastal Master Plan

Order Underscores State’s Prioritization of Comprehensive Coastal Restoration and Protection

(NEW ORLEANS – April 4, 2016) Moments ago, Governor John Bel Edwards signed Executive Order NO. JBE 2016 – 09 underscoring the state’s prioritization of coastal restoration and protection activities and requiring all state agencies, departments and offices to adhere to the Coastal Master Plan to the greatest degree possible. In response, national and local organizations comprising the Restore the Mississippi River Delta CoalitionEnvironmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – released the following statement:

“This executive order strongly affirmed the state’s commitment to coastal restoration and protection today. With billions of dollars already invested in a master plan that has benefitted tens of thousands of acres with more forthcoming, we applaud Governor Edwards for helping to remove barriers and ensure efficiency in the state’s fight to save its coast.

“We’re all in this together, and we need to work together to undertake what the Governor has outlined as a top state priority in the years ahead. This order helps to ensure that agencies and departments will work cooperatively and leverage resources wherever possible to get the job done.

“This collaboration and unified front is especially important with Louisiana in the midst of one of the largest ecosystem restoration programs in U.S. history. We have a golden opportunity to get this right – and that also means protecting funding for and advancing projects in the Coastal Master Plan. Our organizations will continue to work with Governor Edwards and all stakeholders to do just that.”

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition 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, 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 www.mississippiriverdelta.org.

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LA Business Organizations Tout Significant Economic Potential of Coastal Restoration to Gov. Edwards

March 14, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, coastal restoration, Economy, Job Creation, Media Resources, State Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org
Caitlin Berni, Greater New Orleans, Inc., 504.527.6980, cberni@gnoinc.org

Louisiana Business Organizations Tout Significant Economic Potential of Coastal Restoration to Governor John Bel Edwards

Groups Urge Edwards to Protect Coastal Funding, Advance Master Plan for Long-term Prosperity of State

(New Orleans – March 14, 2016) Today, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards signed by 29 Louisiana business associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and civic groups urging him to protect funding for coastal restoration and to move forward with the implementation of the state’s Coastal Master Plan. The groups thanked Governor Edwards for his leadership in protecting coastal restoration funds from mid-year budget cuts and for his continued statements that coastal funds should only be used for coastal restoration and protection.

“Our ongoing land loss crisis creates significant business risks to the many industries that depend on a healthy Gulf ecosystem,” said the letter. “A recent study prepared for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority evaluated the economic impact of coastal land loss in the state. Their report showed that another 25 years of continued land loss would cost residents and business owners $2.1 billion to replace commercial and residential properties, roads, rails and pipelines lost due to erosion. Disruption to business activities during that same time period would cause an additional loss of $5.8 billion. Implementing our Coastal Master Plan can help reduce such losses.”

“Investing in coastal restoration will not only reduce the economic impact to businesses and communities, but will actually grow the economy through development of a new water management sector and expertise,” continued the letter. “The expected infusion of billions of dollars in coming years from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlements, GOMESA and other sources will fuel the creation of jobs and expansion of companies working in this sector.”

A recent analysis by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition based on The Data Center’s methodology shows that water management – which includes coastal restoration, coastal protection and urban water management – is the fastest growing industry in southeast Louisiana, with more than 32,000 jobs. Coastal restoration is not only the biggest job creator in the region, it also has some of the highest-paying jobs, averaging $69,277 per year.

“Coastal restoration projects will not only rebuild our vanishing coast – they will create and sustain jobs, protect communities and provide a sustainable future for the people and industries that call Louisiana home,” said Steve Cochran, Campaign Director for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. “By safeguarding coastal dollars for coastal efforts, the state is keeping its commitment to restoring and protecting Louisiana’s coast.”

“Coastal restoration and protection will create long-lasting, good-paying jobs and be an economic driver for Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “As evidenced in GNO, Inc.’s ‘State of the Sector: Water Management’ report, there are currently 30,350 people employed in the water management sector in the Greater New Orleans region. Additionally, this sector is predicted to grow by 23 percent over the next ten years. And with the influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in oil spill money for coastal restoration over the next 16 years – money that is dedicated solely to this growing industry – we will continue to create jobs and provide economic opportunities for the people and industries of coastal Louisiana.”

“The citizens and businesses of Louisiana are relying on you, as our new governor, to prioritize coastal restoration, protect coastal restoration funding and continue to implement restoration plans,” concluded the letter. “Thank you for your continuing attention to this top priority for Louisiana business interests and citizens.”

Read the letter in full along with all signers here: http://www.mississippiriverdelta.org/blog/2016/03/14/mrd-coalition-sends-governor-edwards-letter-touting-economic-potential-of-coastal-restoration/.

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition 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, 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.

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MRD Coalition Sends Governor Edwards Letter Touting Economic Potential of Coastal Restoration

| Posted by Emily McCalla in coastal restoration, Economics, Economy, Job Creation, State Legislature

Today, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards signed by 29 Louisiana business associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and civic groups urging him to protect funding for coastal restoration and to move forward with the implementation of the state’s Coastal Master Plan. The groups thanked Governor Edwards for his leadership in protecting coastal restoration funds from mid-year budget cuts and for his continued statements that coastal funds should only be used for coastal restoration and protection.

View the full letter below:

JBE1 JBE2 JBE3

 

 

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Louisiana Releases Draft Annual Plan for Coastal Restoration and Protection

January 12, 2016 | Posted by jhebert in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), coastal restoration, Diversions, Restoration Projects, State Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org

Louisiana Releases Draft Annual Plan for Coastal Restoration and Protection
Plan Includes CPRA’s Recommendations for Two Sediment Diversions

(BATON ROUGE, La. – January 12, 2016) Last week, Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) released its draft Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Annual Plan for Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection in Coastal Louisiana. This year’s Annual Plan expands on last fall’s recommendation by CPRA to advance two sediment diversion projects at Mid Barataria and Mid Breton.

CPRA is required by the state legislature to produce an Annual Plan that reports on the progress of projects as well as project funding schedules and budgets. The agency will host a series of three public meetings this week in Lake Charles, New Orleans and Thibodaux and is accepting comments on the draft plan.

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 – released the following statement:

“The drafting of the Annual Plan is a vital part of the restoration process in Louisiana. It gives CPRA the opportunity to take inventory of projects in the Coastal Master Plan, project real dollars to continue progress and communicate directly with the public on the status and potential futures of specific projects.

“We are pleased to see the most current and best-available science from the Coastal Master Plan process continue to drive prioritization and planning by CPRA. As the Annual Plan says, the Mid Barataria and Mid Breton sediment diversions must continue to move forward into engineering and design, and eventually, implementation.

“Sediment diversions like these provide the best opportunity to restore our coast over time. They use the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to help rebuild our collapsing delta – the power, sediment and water from the Mississippi River itself. Our disappearing land can only survive if we allow the river that built it to rebuild and sustain it. Ensuring these diversions move forward in an expedited manner should be of utmost importance to us all.

“We look forward to continuing to work alongside CPRA, other organizations and residents all along the coast to get diversions up and running.”

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition 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, 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.

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Louisiana’s Gubernatorial Candidates Declare Positions on Key Coastal Restoration Fiscal Issues

November 18, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in coastal restoration, Restore the Coast, State Legislature

Louisiana's next governor will face two important fiscal issues related to coastal restoration early in his term. The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, in partnership with Coast Builders Coalition, delivered the below letter  to both candidates on November 9, in which our groups asked the candidates to provide their positions on how they would handle two key coastal issues once in office.

The first question involves the payback of Greater New Orleans Area Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) by the state of Louisiana to the federal government. Louisiana owes approximately $93 million per year for the next 30 years to pay off its debt. The groups asked the candidates how they might manage this enormous fiscal obligation.

The second issue involves the level of funding generated by the state of Louisiana for coastal restoration. Since 1989, the state’s only annual recurring commitment to coastal funding has remained nearly stagnant between $25 and $35 million. Given the tremendous backlog of projects in the state’s $50 billion Coastal Master Plan, we asked the candidates whether Louisiana’s current contribution was significant enough to match the need and how and where additional funds might be found.

 

Funding Letter to Candidates Photo

Official Letter to Gubernatorial Candidates. Click to download PDF.

Our organizations received official responses from both candidates on November 17. A PDF and the text of each response is shared below in alphabetical order. Click on each image to view/download the response letters.

John Bel Edwards response:

JBE Response photo 1

Official response from John Bel Edwards. Click to download PDF.

Coastal Restoration, Interested Parties:

In response to the questions you posed on Coastal Restoration funding I am providing the following answers and information. When I am governor you will always have a seat at the table as we prioritize our coast and return honesty to the state budgeting process.

  1. The first issue is the money owed to the Federal Government by the state of Louisiana supporting the New Orleans and surrounding areas Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS). The first payment of the 30-year payback scheme, structured by Governor Jindal to repay the $1.8 billion debt, comes due very early in the new Governor’s term. Estimated in the Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Plan to be $93 million per year beginning in FY 2017, these payments represent a significant new recurring cost to the state.

If our presently identified coastal funds are used to pay this obligation, it will nearly cripple the state’s coastal program. We would appreciate you sharing how you would manage this obligation without diverting existing coastal funds like GOMESA and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Trust Fund. The FY 2016 Coastal Annual Plan suggests this payment should be requested from the Capital Outlay budget each year. Do you feel that is an appropriate funding stream? If not, we would like to hear your thoughts on exactly how this debt may be paid.

I do not support diverting existing coastal funds to repay the HSDRRS debt.  Capital Outlay funds may need to be used to address some of this payback, but the state will need to address the HSDRRS payback as part of its structural budget reforms. My plans to address the structural budget problems so we can budget with honesty and integrity to meet all our obligations and priorities are available at www.johnbelforlouisiana.com .

  1. A second issue is the level of restoration funding generated by the state. As you are probably aware, the state’s only annual recurring commitment to coastal funding has remained nearly the same since 1989, somewhere between $25 and $35 million. In fact, since this funding is tied to state mineral revenues, the state’s contribution to coastal funding actually decreased by approximately $10 million within the past year. Given the tremendous backlog of projects in the Coastal Master Plan, and the $50 billion price tag—that some economists estimate to be nearer to $100 billion—do you believe the state should invest more in coastal funding, and are you willing to advocate for additional state coastal dollars during your term? As Governor, where would you suggest these dollars could be found?

I look forward to working with stakeholders to ensure timely funding of coastal restoration projects.

We have lost nearly 2000 square miles of coastal land mass over the last 100 years. The economic contributions of Louisiana’s coast exceed $20 billion per year. But much of this is threatened, including our fisheries, wildlife, tourism, oil and gas, and shipping and navigation industries.

We must immediately match the scale of the crisis with the response, implementing unprecedented coordination and taking three primary actions:

  1. Create certainty of funding
  2. Ensure the funding is spent only on coastal restoration master plan and priority of projects
  3. Fully and convincingly making the case to the Congress and the Administration that coastal restoration in Louisiana is a national priority worth of funding tens of billions of dollars

The Coastal Restoration Master Plan is a living document which must be constantly revisited through the lens of new and better science.

Funding will soon be available in amounts that will be meaningful, including $100 million per year from the Breaux Act, $1.2 billion from the BP criminal fine, up to $200 million from GOMESA, $5 billion over fifteen years through NRDA, and another $787 million over 15 years through the Restore Act. But the estimated cost of funding coastal restoration is $50 billion over the next 10 years. I am fully committed to using these funds only for coastal restoration so that we can prove we are good stewards of our funding when we attempt to convince the rest of the nation to partner with us.

 Sincerely,

John Bel Edwards

Senator David Vitter's response:

DBV Answer photo1

Official response from David Vitter. Click to download PDF.

Senator David Vitter’s Answers to Restore the Mississippi River Delta Campaign Coalition and Coastal Builders Coalition

Letter Dated November 9, 2015

1)The FY 2016 Coastal Annual Plan suggests the payment of the 30-year payback scheme, structured by Governor Jindal to repay the $1.8 billion debt, should be requested from the Capital Outlay budget each year. Do you feel that is an appropriate funding stream? If not, we would like to hear your thoughts on exactly how this debt may be paid.

Yes, I believe it is an appropriate funding stream, but I am open to examining other means of retiring the debt service, including advocating Congress to forgive the debt as they have done in the past with FEMA disaster loans. What I won’t do is rob Peter to pay Paul by cannibalizing current and future coastal protection and restoration dollars, even if those funds could be used to retire the debt. My family and I live within the greater New Orleans hurricane protection system and are appreciative for the protection it affords us and hundreds of thousands of Louisianians, but we cannot afford to let this debt cripple efforts to restore and protect our diminishing coastline. It’s unfortunate that Governor Jindal kicked the can down the road to the next administration by deferring this payment when mechanisms were in place giving him authority to make payments before construction was completed.

2) Given the tremendous backlog of projects in the Coastal Master Plan, and the $50 billion price tag – that some economists estimate to be nearer to $100 billion – do you believe the state should invest more in coastal funding, and are you willing to advocate for additional state coastal dollars during your term? As Governor, where would you suggest these dollars be found?

We should absolutely be investing more in coastal funding. Louisiana’s coast is one of America’s greatest natural treasures and one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Our coast contains 40% of our nation’s wetlands, which provides critical habitat to numerous species of wildlife, migratory birds, fish, and shellfish. Equally important is the fact that our coast is a “working coast” and the foundation of Louisiana’s economy. It supports employment opportunities across several business sectors – energy, maritime, industrial, and fisheries – so Louisianians can provide for their families. Louisiana’s coast is also the #1 reason our state is called the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” Our bayous, wetlands, and coastal waters are home to world-class fishing and hunting. Whether employment or enjoyment, our coast is the lifeblood of Louisiana and its restoration is critical for the survival of Louisiana’s economy and culture.

We have all the tangible tools to effectively execute our coastal restoration efforts now and for generations to come, but what we need, in addition to sustainable funding, is leadership to aggressively push those efforts forward for a resilient coastal ecosystem.

And as your Governor, I will bring that leadership – strong, hands-on leadership – and start putting shovels in the ground on major coastal ecosystem restoration projects. In order to take steps to fully implement the Coastal Master Plan, I will immediately work towards three specific proposals. I will –

1) Lead a coalition of Governors, including from Alaska, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and the Gulf Coast, to push the feds to expand and accelerate offshore leasing and revenue sharing, producing more American energy and revenue for both the federal government and producing states.
2) Bridge the gap between wetlands mitigation and the Coastal Master Plan. We need to push mandated mitigation where it’s need the most – our coast.

In order to do this, we have to strengthen our state’s In-Lieu Fee program, which is essentially the state’s mitigation bank.

I was instrumental in pushing the Corps to approve the state’s current in-lieu fee program, but we need to greatly expand the program and include proposed mitigation projects in the Coastal Master Plan or have them complement existing ecosystem restoration projects.

3) Develop an aggressive, organized campaign to raise substantial private matching funds from energy and other leading businesses and non-governmental organizations, which would serve as lead sponsors of specific ecosystem restoration projects in the Coastal Master Plan.

We must encourage those businesses or organizations that call Louisiana home or do business here to compliment the state’s investment in ecosystem restoration projects along our coastal landscape.

Finding additional revenue sources to fully implement the Coastal Master Plan takes strong leadership, and as your Governor, I will be a leader who is hands-on and aggressively push to protect the money we have and find the money we will need.

Thank you, and God Bless Louisiana.


To see what the candidates said at CRCL’s Coastal Issues Forum, click here.

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2015 Louisiana Legislative Session: Coastal Wrap-Up

June 22, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), RESTORE Act, State Legislature

By Cynthia Duet, Deputy Director, Audubon Louisiana

The 2015 session of the Louisiana Legislature has comeState Capitol to a close. Although the last two months have been filled with difficult decisions for lawmakers trying to balance the state budget during this important fiscal session, bills related to coastal restoration projects, programs and funding remained the primary focus of Mississippi River Delta Coalition policy staff.

The Louisiana Legislature demonstrated continued commitment to coastal restoration and protection issues by passing HCR1 –  the resolution that allows for passage of the 2015-2016 Coastal Annual Plan. The plan is the funding report and projections document that shows where, when and how funding will be expended on restoration of the coast for protection of the people, wildlife and industries of Louisiana. The resolution was sponsored by Representative Gordon Dove, Chairman of House Natural Resources Committee, recognized as a long-time coastal supporter from the Terrebonne area. He is now wrapping up his last term in the House.

There were many items monitored this session that either did or would have had an effect on the coastal fund and coastal habitats.  Some of the highlights are noted as follows:

  • House Concurrent Resolution 1 (HCR 1) – already mentioned, the funding vehicle for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s 2015-2016 annual plan for integrated coastal protection and restoration passed with overwhelming support through both state houses. The Coastal Annual Plan funds coastal restoration and hurricane protection for a three-year period through the authorization of $884 million in spending towards new and existing projects. This authorization will fund some of the 19 priority projects for restoring Louisiana’s coast as identified by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition.
  • HB 352 – This bill transferred oversight authority for a state-negotiated agreement allowing coastal landowners to retain their mineral rights into perpetuity if they donate their surface rights to a certified organization for the purposes of implementing a coastal integrated project.  The authority, established by legislation in 2006, was moved to CPRA from DNR, consistent with the current structure of the state’s coastal program. The bill is currently awaiting signature of the governor.
  • HB 288 – This bill sought to prohibit the importation and release of feral hogs and restrict the transportation of feral hogs, except by permit. The spread of feral hogs is linked to transport and release. The bill failed in committee. Feral hogs damage levees, destroy coastal marsh and other wildlife habitat, reduce crops, and prey upon livestock and wildlife.
  • HB 167 – This bill would have allowed nighttime hunting of feral hogs and coyotes year round on private property, including during deer and duck seasons. HB 167 did not pass out of Senate Natural Resources Committee due to concerns that the proposed changes to the law would make enforcement of illegal nighttime hunting incredibly difficult, essentially encouraging poaching. The law as it stands allows a landowner to control feral hogs on their property year round via a permit for nighttime hunting of feral hogs when night hunting is not legal during September through February. Both bills sought to address the exploding feral hog population, however, a more coordinated effort is needed to address this scourge on Louisiana’s landscape. The feral hog population is estimated at more than 500,000 and increasing every year.
  • SB 196 – This Senate Bill proposed a Constitutional Amendment to ask voters to repeal constitutional protections for funds including the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Fund, Oilfield Site Restoration Fund, Oil Spill Contingency Fund, Artificial Reef Development Fund, and the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund.
  • HB 523 – This proposed constitutional amendment to ask voters to repeal constitutional protection for a number of funds, including the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund, Barrier Island Stabilization and Preservation Fund, and the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund. As a reminder, all funds constitutionally protected went before the voters to approve that protection at some point.

There were several bills that, due to the state’s budget crisis, were being contemplated early in the session as a way to free up money to balance the $1.6 billion budget hole. The two bills proposing to remove constitutional protection for key funds failed to make it out of legislative committees. Fortunately, these items did not gain traction and the budget issues were handled in other ways, for now. However, there remains a need to stay ever vigilant during future sessions. The discussion about whether funds should be protected under the constitution or be free for lawmakers to apply to other uses will likely continue as the state grapples with expected budget challenges in the coming years.

In summary, as the 2015 fiscal session wrapped up, much concern still remains regarding the state’s budget, and the likelihood remains high that a special session may be called by the new administration at the beginning of 2016 to look for solutions. Amidst the obvious difficulties, coastal protection and restoration projects remain on the course that they have been on for several years, and the funding of projects from RESTORE Act and the GOMESA are closer than ever to becoming a reality to repair our damaged coastline.

For more information on the projects that can save Louisiana’s coast, please visit: http://www.mississippiriverdelta.org/restoration-projects/map/.

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Leading Conservation Groups Praise Passage of HCR1, Funding 2015-2016 Coastal Annual Plan

May 19, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), Media Resources, State Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
 

HCR1 Passes Legislature, Funding 2015-2016 Coastal Annual Plan

Leading Conservation Groups Praise Passage as Recognition of Coastal Restoration Priorities

(New Orleans, LA—May 19, 2015) Today, House Concurrent Resolution 1 (HCR 1) – the funding vehicle for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s 2015-2016 annual plan for integrated coastal protection and restoration – made its final passage through the state legislature with unanimous approval of the Senate. The annual plan funds coastal restoration and hurricane protection for a three-year period through the authorization of $884 million in spending towards new and existing projects.

This authorization will fund some of the 19 priority projects for restoring Louisiana’s coast as identified by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition. In response, coalition organizations including Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation issued the following statement:

“The Louisiana Legislature demonstrated continued commitment to coastal restoration and protection issues by passing HCR1 today. As we mark the tenth year since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated our communities, at no point is this commitment more important than now.

“The passage of this year’s annual plan funds important projects that will have a significant impact on restoring our coast and better protecting the people, wildlife and industries of Louisiana.

“We applaud the leadership of Chip Kline, Director of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities and Chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and express gratitude to bill sponsor Representative Gordon Dove of Houma and Senator Norby Chabert of Houma, for shepherding this resolution through the legislature.

“A strong, sustainable Louisiana coast is the backbone of a vibrant economy, protected communities and a healthy environment. We ask all legislators to continue to prioritize coastal restoration and protection in the years ahead.”

The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition 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, 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 www.mississippiriverdelta.org.

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Louisiana business community calls for protection of state’s Coastal Trust Fund

May 21, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Economics, RESTORE Act, State Legislature

By Derek Brockbank, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign Director

Louisiana businesses have long known that a healthy coast is essential to the state’s economy. But a healthy coast means restoration, and restoration takes funding. So it’s no surprise that businesses are lining up to support House Bill 490 (HB 490) in the legislature this year, because this legislation would make sure Louisiana’s Coastal Trust Fund is used only for coastal restoration and protection, with no exceptions.

Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., has outlined why the coast is so important to the Louisiana business community:

“Restoring Louisiana’s coast is existential to our ability to live and work in Greater New Orleans, but we have a unique opportunity to turn this looming crisis into an economic opportunity by harnessing the existing water management, coastal resilience and disaster recovery experience currently existing in Southeast Louisiana and building on it, exporting it, and positioning our region as the international epicenter of the emerging environmental sector.”

Greater New Orleans, Inc. recently released a letter in support of HB 490, where they were joined by 28 business and economic development associations and more than 60 individual businesses that work in Louisiana. In explaining why they supported a bill that was largely about closing a fiscal loophole in how the Coastal Trust Fund is operated, the letter stated:

“As supporters of the RESTORE Act and the State Master Plan process, we know that large-scale coastal restoration is urgently needed to protect our businesses, economic base and communities. Investing in protection and restoration of our coast will reduce storm risk, while also creating jobs and economic opportunities that are important to our members, customers and parishes.”

Todd Murphy, President of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, one of the letter signers, explained his support for HB 490 this way:

“Restoring our coast means sustaining the Louisiana economy. Businesses in Jefferson Parish rely on coastal wetlands. We need to protect the integrity of Louisiana’s Coastal Fund by using the Fund as the law intended – to pay for critical protection and restoration projects only.”

The Louisiana State House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 490 on May 5. Now the bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee. With the Senate adjourning on June 2, just a week and a half remains for the bill to be taken up by the Finance Committee and then the full Senate.

Take Action: Tell your Louisiana State Senator to take up and pass HB 490: https://secure2.edf.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2283.

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Business Community, Civic Associations and Coastal Parishes call for Louisiana Legislature to Protect Coastal Fund and Pass HB 490

May 15, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in People, Restoration Projects, State Legislature

By Derek Brockbank, Campaign Director, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign

More than 150 businesses, business associations, economic development groups, civic associations, tourism and outdoor recreation groups recently signed on to a letter calling for the Louisiana Legislature to pass HB 490, to protect the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund from misuse.

At the same time, the 20 parish presidents that represent Louisiana’s coastal parishes sent their own letter to the leaders of the Louisiana House of Representatives and State Senate calling on them to support HB 490.

Led by Coast Builders Coalition, Dredging Contractors of America, Greater New Orleans, Inc. and dozens of local chambers of commerce and convention and visitors bureaus, the letter from businesses and civic associations stated that:

“Monies dedicated to the Coastal Fund should only be used for coastal protection and restoration, but for the past few years, a loophole in the law has been used by the state as a way to attempt to balance the state’s ailing budget. While the Louisiana constitution prohibits using one-time money for recurring costs, such as health care and higher education, some lawmakers believe they can get around that rule by transferring money through the Coastal Fund.

“As civic and business leaders who value restoration as one of our top policy priorities, we urge you to pass HB 490 and protect the integrity of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund, by ensuring it will be used only as intended.”

The letter from Louisiana Parishes Against Coastal Erosion (PACE), representing Louisiana’s 20 coastal parishes, said:

“La. PACE has reviewed and discussed the provisions set forth in this proposed piece of legislation, and has determined that HB 490 is in the best interest of the citizens of Louisiana.”

After unanimously passing the Louisiana House of Representatives, HB 490 is clearly gaining momentum. The more people hear about the bill, the more popular it becomes. Not surprisingly, the business community, local civic associations and coastal parishes understand that transparent and proper use of Coastal Fund dollars is essential to ensure the continued flow of BP oil spill fines and other federal funds to the state. Mismanagement of the Coastal Fund now will create doubts that could jeopardize millions of future dollars. HB 490 would protect the integrity of Louisiana’s Coastal Fund by using the Fund as the law intended – for coastal restoration and protection only. Now it’s up to the Louisiana State Senate to pass this important legislation.

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Bill to Protect Louisiana’s Coastal Fund Passes House

May 5, 2014 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in BP Oil Disaster, Media Resources, State Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, eskree@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Erin Greeson, National Audubon Society, 503.913.8978, egreeson@audubon.org

Bill to protect Louisiana’s Coastal Fund passes House

Legislation to prevent misuse of Fund moves to Senate 

(May 5, 2014—Baton Rouge, LA) Today, the Louisiana House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 490, legislation that will protect the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund from misuse. National and local conservation organizations committed to Mississippi River Delta restoration – Environmental Defense FundNational Wildlife FederationNational Audubon SocietyLake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – issued the following statement:

“The House took a stand for the coast today by unanimously approving House Bill 490. This bill closes the loophole on misuse of the Coastal Fund as a pass-through account. Authored by Representative Brett Geymann (R-Lake Charles), House Bill 490 protects the integrity of the Coastal Fund by ensuring it is used as the law intended: for coastal protection and restoration uses only.

“Transparent and proper use of the Coastal Fund is essential to our state’s coastal restoration efforts. This is especially true as federal decision-makers are deciding how to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties from the Gulf oil disaster. Money transferred into the Coastal Fund should only be used for coastal purposes – not to balance the state’s budget.

“The people of Louisiana deserve the state’s unanimously-passed commitment to comprehensive coastal restoration. We look to the Senate to make the same choice and swiftly pass House Bill 490.”

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition 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. Comprised of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, 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. See more at www.mississippiriverdelta.org.

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