Budget cuts will impact restoration programs, raises question of how state will pay for Coastal Plan
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, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation issued the following statement in response to announced budget cuts:
"In 2012, Governor Jindal and the state legislature 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 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 on the safety of coastal residents.
"As the state begins to implement its 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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