CPRA Board Moves Forward on Two Diversion Projects, Proposes Using GOMESA Funds for Highway Elevation
Today, Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) board announced two major developments. First, CPRA recommended advancing both the Mid Barataria and Mid Breton sediment diversion projects in the Coastal Master Plan, which will reintroduce fresh water and sediment from the Mississippi River into its surrounding, collapsing wetlands and rebuild land over time. Secondly, the CPRA board voted to approve a new proposal to use Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) money, rather than funds previously committed to projects in the state’s Coastal Master Plan, for elevating Louisiana Highway 1.
The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition – which includes Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation – issued the following statement in response:
“We are pleased to see CPRA leverage the most current and best-available science to move forward the Mid Barataria and Mid Breton sediment diversions projects into engineering and design. The urgency and severity of our collapsing delta requires that we use the most powerful tools at our disposal. Sediment diversions provide the best opportunity to restore the coast over time, preserving our communities, industries and entire way of life. We will continue to pursue and understand the science behind diversions, but there is no scientific uncertainty about our physical reality – we live in a landscape built by the river, disappearing because we have cut the delta off from the river.
“This announcement is an important step toward getting sediment diversions up and running. We’re in a race against the clock and forces of nature. We need to move forward at full speed while ensuring efficiency and transparency in the steps ahead.
“Louisiana Highway 1 is a critical corridor for our state and national economic vitality. We believe that the elevation of Highway 1 is eligible for GOMESA funding, and we join with the LA1 Coalition in pursuit of adequate funding for this and other coastal infrastructure projects. We support the development of a prioritization system that would allow for up to 10 percent of GOMESA revenues to be spent on coastal infrastructure projects, with a focus on projects that are directly impacted by coastal wetland loss. This system should reflect the significant role of coastal infrastructure projects such as Highway 1, which contribute to energy security, community resiliency, and the national, state and local economy. This is a long-standing and well-understood aspect of GOMESA and does not veer from any prior commitments to restoration.
“We are gratified that the state has made the right decision in considering an appropriate funding source for this coastal infrastructure improvement project and has not moved forward with using oil spill funds it previously committed to the Coastal Master Plan.”
A recent poll found tremendous statewide support for coastal restoration:
94 percent indicate that a gubernatorial candidate’s commitment to protect and restore coastal Louisiana will be important to them when they vote.
90 percent want the next governor to ensure funds currently dedicated to coastal restoration are not spent on anything but coastal restoration.
87 percent want the next governor to work to identify and secure funding for future projects identified in the state’s Coastal Master Plan.
85 percent believe restoration of coastal Louisiana should be a high priority for the new governor.
95 percent want the new governor to commit to move quickly and get started building coastal restoration projects.
78 percent believe protecting and restoring coastal Louisiana is as important as other issues facing the state.
Two-thirds (66 percent) indicate support for river diversions to build new land in Louisiana.
The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition
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