Letter: Levee board looking after own interests, not state’s

Coastal restoration and protection is the responsibility of Louisiana and its individual parishes. The cost of repairs to our damaged coast should be paid by the responsible entities. Under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Louisiana and its coastal parishes are able to file suit to protect and restore their coasts.

My legislation, Senate Bill 469, does not change any of those realities. It does not let any company or industry off the hook for damages caused to coastal areas. It makes extremely clear the proposition that the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East is not the proper entity to bring suit on behalf of Louisiana. Every dollar received by SLFPA-E was used to fortify New Orleans-area levees. After Hurricane Katrina, none of the billions the board spent was utilized to implement coastal restoration projects.

Historically, levee boards, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, built and maintained the river levees that cut off the flow of sediment that would have restored the coast. In his book “Rising Tide,” former SLFPA-E board member John Barry blames the Corps and its levees for coastal damage. Why is SLFPA-E suddenly interested in coastal restoration?

Unfortunately, SLFPA-E is attempting to advance its own agenda to the detriment of Louisiana’s entire coast. Any money collected by this lawsuit, should it proceed, will not go toward fixing Louisiana’s coast, as there is no requirement that the board spend any money on coastal restoration. It will fund SLFPA-E — the strongest levee system in the state — while Terrebonne Parish has an unfinished levee system built through local tax revenue without federal help. The parishes that filed coastal suits — which are not affected by this bill in any way — suffered damage from flooding in recent hurricanes in areas outside the federal system.

If successful, this suit means more money for SLFPA-E and less money for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund, which funds all coastal restoration and protection activities throughout the state.

Passage of SB469 will help protect Louisiana’s entire coast by preserving earlier reforms. To ensure Louisiana worked with the parishes, the CZMA was adopted in 1980, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority was created in 2006, and the current master plan was approved in 2012. This must be the year that the state of Louisiana and its coastal parishes become the clear authority over coastal restoration and protection. All funding dedicated to coastal restoration and protection must be used in the best interest of Louisiana’s entire coast.

Bret Allain

state senator, District 21

Franklin