In a white paper, issued last Friday by Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), the State summarized a number of challenges regarding federal environmental reviews and permitting that have the potential to slow important coastal restoration projects and began to discuss some options for remedy.
According to CPRA, this white paper continues to build on prior efforts initiated by Governor Edwards to engage the White House and federal review agencies regarding this important topic.
Over the next fifteen years, the CPRA has identified approximately $11.4 billion for the implementation of the State’s Coastal Master Plan.
The state is also confident that it has sediment sources such as the Mississippi River available to devote to the implementation of those projects.
“Our biggest challenge has been the environmental review and permitting processes, which although based on strong policy, are often implemented inefficiently resulting in significant delay, unpredictable decisions, and limited accountability,” said CPRA Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry.
In October 2016, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a joint memorandum emphasizing the prioritization of Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration and collaboration among agencies.
In November of 2016, CPRA held a workshop with federal agencies directed at identifying and overcoming the complexities of permitting sediment diversions.
In January 2017, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion was placed on the Federal Fast 41 Infrastructure Dashboard at Governor Edwards’ request.
In March, Governor Edwards then submitted five integrated coastal protection projects for consideration for “high priority” status by CEQ under Executive Order 13755.
And in April, Governor Edwards issued a declaration of emergency for coastal Louisiana requesting that all available means be exercised to expedite permitting and environmental review for restoration projects.
The issues identified with the federal review process in CPRA’s white paper first recognize the importance and capacity of existing federal law to assess the complexities of large-scale ecosystem restoration taking aim instead on the practical application of those laws and processes.
A copy of the white paper can be found on the CPRA website.