Louisiana has little choice but to adopt a $50 billion plan to pay for projects that would protect and restore the state’s coastline, the second-highest-ranking member of the Louisiana House of Representatives said Monday.
“Failure is not an option for us,” state Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Louisiana has lost 1,880 square miles of land since the 1930s and stands to lose up to 1,750 square miles more during the next 50 years, he said. “That’s unsustainable for our people,” Leger said.
Leger said Louisiana’s coastline is important to the rest of the nation’s economy, providing 26 percent of the nation’s fisheries, and offering the world’s largest port system, which provides overseas access to the center of the country and offshore energy production.
Leger is backing Senate Concurrent Resolution 46, in which the Legislature would approve the comprehensive master plan for integrated coastal protection that was adopted by the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
The Legislature in 2006 required the CPRA to develop a coastal master plan every five years. The Legislature approved the first master plan in 2007.
SCR46 seeks approval of the 2012 master plan. The resolution cleared the Senate on May 1 with a 34-0 vote and is awaiting a hearing in the House Natural Resources committee.
The $50 billion, 50-year plan includes 1,098 projects that would create marsh, divert water and sediment from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, build levees, rebuild barrier islands, restore ridges and support hurricane and flood protection structures.
“This is so fundamentally critical for maintaining our sustainability as a people in south Louisiana,” Leger said. The work would create thousands of jobs.
Leger said the funding would come from several sources, including from BP fines, revenue sharing and other sources.
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