For Immediate Release: February 18, 2009
Contact: Chris Macaluso
CPRA Discusses Surplus and Stimulus Funds and Draft Annual Plan at Monthly Meeting
BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority discussed potential funding from state surplus and federal stimulus packages as well as the first draft of the 2010 Annual Plan for Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection at its meeting Wednesday.
Chairman Garret Graves told the Authority Governor Bobby Jindal said, in an announcement last week, he will ask the Legislature to appropriate $300 million in surplus dollars from the 2009 fiscal year to coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts.
Graves urged the Authority to dedicate $200 million of those potential surplus dollars to the state's obligation to purchase lands needed by the Army Corps of Engineers to continue to build the hurricane protection system for the New Orleans area. He added the state will have to purchase $336 million in land by 2010 for the Corps to continue building the levees and floodgates that make up the hurricane protection system, according to Corps officials.
Corps officials have stated repeatedly that the system to provide a 100-year level of protection to the New Orleans area will be complete by 2011.
"I very strongly urge this authority to commit the money needed to purchase these lands to fulfill the state's obligation toward building this protection system for the New Orleans area," Graves said. "We cannot afford any delays in building this system and if we don't put forth the necessary funds, we could lose billions in federal money. That will satisfy the state's obligation to the project through 2011."
Additionally, federal stimulus money from the bill signed Tuesday could be available for coastal restoration and protection projects but no particular projects have been identified thus far, Graves said.
The Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration (OCPR) was asked by President Obama's transition team to identify "shovel ready" projects that would benefit from stimulus dollars. Graves said a list of more than $6 billion in projects that could be ready for construction within the next two years was sent to the White House but the state has not been advised that any of those projects will be funded at this time.
The CPRA will work with the Corps' New Orleans District, which identified about $73 million in projects that could receive stimulus funds, according to Graves. Other federal agencies that work on coastal restoration projects like NOAA and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service will receive stimulus package dollars and Graves said the state will work with those agencies as closely as possible as well.
The Authority was also briefed on the Fiscal Year 2010 Draft Annual Plan for Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection by Kirk Rhinehart of the OCPR. The draft plan identifies a host of protection and restoration projects that will receive funding over the next three years and the current funding sources.
More than $1.2 billion in funding is currently available and will be spent on projects in the next three years with about one percent of that being spent on planning and studies, 46 percent allocated to land acquisitions for hurricane protection projects and 39 percent spent on construction, according to the plan.
Of that $1.2 billion, more than $750 million will be dedicated to the beneficial use of dredge materials from navigation channels to build wetlands and more than $100 million will be used for barrier island maintenance.
Rhinehart said unlike the previous two annual plans approved by the legislature, the FY 2010 Draft Plan identifies projects over a three-year span rather than one year and it only lists projects that can be funded with money that is currently available. Past plans identified projects that could have been funded if more money was available.
"Funding is available through state surplus money and other programs for the next three years, but we need to work on finding ways to keep these programs at their current levels and even increase funding for their expansion," he said.
Graves said the draft plan represents a more than 1500 percent increase in the amount of restoration and protection work being funded with state money when compared with the investment made in the years before the CPRA was formed in 2005.
The OCPR is conducting public meetings for the draft plan this week and will take public comments regarding the plan through March 27 of this year. A final copy of the plan must be approved by the Authority and submitted to the Legislature before this year's regular legislative session. The Draft 2010 Annual Plan can be read at the following address: www.lacpra.org/draftannualplan2010.
In other business, the Authority discussed the ongoing efforts to build the Morganza to the Gulf hurricane protection system for the Terrebonne Parish area using state and local dollars. Corps officials said recently the 68-mile system of levees and floodgates that has received federal authorization twice in the last 10 years will have to be studied for another three or four years before Corps construction work can begin.
The Authority also discussed ongoing efforts to keep the West Bay Diversion in Plaquemines Parish operating and supplemental construction funding for a shoreline protection project at the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Louisiana.
For more information about the CPRA and Louisiana's coastal protection and restoration efforts, please contact Chris Macaluso at (225) 342-3968 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.