FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2007
Contact: Chris Macaluso
Governor Blanco Praises Legislature for Approval of Historic Coastal Master Plan
Urges Immediate Funding to Accelerate Implementation
BATON ROUGE - In a press conference at the capitol today, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco praised the Louisiana Legislature for its unanimous approval of the state's first comprehensive master plan for coastal restoration and hurricane protection. Gov. Blanco asked the legislature to make the dollars available to accelerate implementation of the plan; put at least $200 million of the state's surplus funds in the coastal fund and allow the state to securitize the Tobacco Settlement, of which 20 percent was constitutionally dedicated to the fund by a statewide referendum.
"Today it is clear that we have made America's coast a priority. I am pleased the legislature has acted swiftly to put this plan in place," Governor Blanco said. "With the passage of the resolutions, Louisiana can make immediate use of state dollars and the federal revenue stream to follow. As we begin the 2007 Hurricane Season, this first master plan stands as a testament to our resolve, incorporating hurricane protection and coastal restoration for the first time in our state's history. This comprehensive master plan will have a lasting impact on the safety of our citizens and the welfare of our state."
Entitled, "Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection: Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast," the plan represents more than 18 months of extensive research, writing, planning and public discussion and is designed to be the guide for all coastal protection and wetland restoration projects in Louisiana over the next several decades. More than 30 meetings with civic groups, coastal scientists, concerned citizens and various stakeholders were conducted since the summer of 2006 to gather input and introduce the public to some of the concepts and potential projects in the plan.
In addition to adopting the master plan, the Legislature also unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Plan, which identifies projects within the master plan that will be planned or constructed during the next three years and the approximate costs of each project.
The master plan is a conceptual framework of the initiatives necessary to sustain and rebuild Louisiana's diverse coastal economies and ecosystems, integrating coastal restoration with hurricane protection in a system-wide approach.
It recommends strategies, including rebuilding and sustaining coastal marshes by restoring the natural freshwater flows and sediment deposits that were originally responsible for building the rich wetlands along Louisiana's coast. Barrier island restoration, beneficial use of dredged materials to build marsh, shoreline stabilization of coastal lakes and bays, and coastal forest and ridge habitat restoration, are identified in the plan as well.
The plan suggests a multi-faceted approach to hurricane protection; in addition to the building of new levee systems and strengthening existing levees, the plan addresses the need to build elevated houses and businesses in flood-prone areas, enforcement of stricter building codes, planning for wiser land use and implementing more refined evacuation plans.
The Master Plan will be the overarching vision for all ongoing and future coastal restoration and protection efforts in the state, such as the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), the Coastal Impact Assistance Plan (CIAP) and the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration, which must be consistent with the Master Plan.
Projects identified by the state in its CIAP plan were submitted by Governor Blanco today to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service. The federally funded program provides states that host onshore oil and gas infrastructure money to mitigate the impacts of petroleum production on the Outer Continental Shelf. Louisiana's share will be $510 million over the next four years, with the state receiving 65 percent and the coastal parishes 35 percent. CIAP projects are consistent with the Master Plan and represent the first phase for implementing the larger vision.
The state is working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers as it develops its Congressionally-mandated Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Plan (LaCPR) which is due to Congress in December. According to Corps of Engineers' officials, LaCPR will use the state's Master Plan as the vision for its efforts.
"Louisiana finds itself in the unexpected position of leading the Corps of Engineers, instead of following," Sidney Coffee, chair of the CPRA, said. "Because of the steps we've now taken and the commitments we've made, we also find ourselves with the credibility to ask Congress to do what we're doing; change the way they go about the business of large scale ecosystem restoration efforts by prioritizing projects and streamlining the interminable federal processes that impede urgent efforts like ours."
A complete copy of the state master plan is available by clicking the following link: www.lacpra.org/masterplanfinal . A copy of the FY 2008 Annual plan is available at www.lacpra.org/2008annualplan. A copy of the final CIAP plan is available at http://dnr.louisiana.gov/crm/ciap/ciap.asp.
For more information, please contact Chris Macaluso in the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities at (225) 342-3968 or by email at email@example.com.
--30-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.