Governor Bobby Jindal addressed a gathering of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem’s Restoration Council in New Orleans, where he highlighted the importance of Louisiana to the Gulf’s Ecosystem and called for a swift flow of RESTORE Act funds to Gulf States, counties and parishes affected by the BP oil spill.
The Governor also highlighted his commitment to coastal restoration and the state’s historic Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, which will protect and preserve Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and communities. A day before the anniversary of Katrina and a year after Isaac’s landfall, the Governor’s address also focused on Louisiana’s unprecedented recovery from Hurricane Katrina, one of the nation’s worst disasters.
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem’s Restoration Council is comprised of Gulf State governors and designees and cabinet or sub-cabinet level representatives from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Army, Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. The mission of the state-federal council is to administer oil spill restoration programs associated with Clean Water Act civil penalties resulting from BP’s Deepwater Horizon Disaster.
Governor Jindal said: “In Louisiana, we’ve seen our share of disasters. Hurricane Katrina battered our state nearly eight years ago, followed by Hurricanes Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac. In 2010, Louisiana was ground zero for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the damage is still occurring today. But we are resilient. We have worked tirelessly to protect our coast, committing billions of dollars to community resilience in Louisiana and the progress has been impressive. We’ve dedicated these dollars because Louisiana’s coastal resources play a key role in putting wild, healthy, domestic seafood on dinner tables across America, powering our nation’s economy and expanding global trade – including doing our part to meet America’s export goals.
“Our coastal area is also the top source of offshore energy in the United States and abundant reserves remain. In addition, we have seen strong growth in shale plays onshore – further increasing Louisiana’s role in our national energy security. Louisiana also serves as the gateway to America’s Commerce Superhighway – the Mississippi River system. All of this must be protected and sustainable for the future. Our coastal efforts underway in Louisiana today represent the largest effort in the nation to protect and restore a coastal landscape. All of this progress and all of these recovery efforts are going to be wasted if our coast is not sustainable. That’s why I’ve directed state officials to commit 100 percent of RESTORE Act funding to ecosystem restoration and community resilience projects associated with our Master Plan. We must see a swift flow of RESTORE Act funds without red tape so we can continue responding to the compounding damages caused by the BP oil spill here in Louisiana and across the entire Gulf Coast.”
The Governor said prior to the BP oil spill, Louisiana was on track to have the lowest rates of land loss in over a decade due to billions of dollars in investments in coastal restoration and hurricane protection. However, he said Louisiana marshes have become more vulnerable to erosion in areas where oil injured coastal vegetation, continuing to impede coastal progress. Researchers continue to report accelerated erosion in areas where vegetation has died due to oil build up. The Governor called on BP to stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their public relations campaign and instead address their Clean Water Act and Natural Resources Damage liabilities now.
Since 2008, the Jindal Administration has dedicated more than $2.5 billion to coastal projects. The state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) acts as the single state authority that integrates coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshaling the expertise and resources of the all state agencies, speaking with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana’s coast. In 2012, using the best available science and an unprecedented amount of outreach to coastal stakeholders, the CPRA developed the Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast – a 50 year, $50 billion plan to preserve and protect Louisiana’s coast now and for the future.
Press Release, August 29, 2013