Gov. Edwards applauds the approval of restoration plans for La’s fragile coastline

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 9:55 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season starts next and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards says restoring the state’s fragile coastline remains a top priority.

On Friday, Edwards applauded the state legislature for finalizing the 2023 Coastal Master Plan and the coastal plan for the new budget year, which begins July 1.

“Every hour and a half we lose a football field worth of land in Louisiana,” said Edwards. “So much of our population, so much of our industrial base, and our economy is based along the coast; not investing in coastal restoration protection simply is not an option.”

In his final months as governor, Edwards says progress has been made under watch.

“Since 2016, so over the course of the two terms that I’ve been governor we have restored and maintained 83 miles of levees, 26,118 acres of coastal land, and 22 miles of barrier island and we see the benefits of this every time there is a storm,” said Edwards.

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is required by state law to update the master plan every six years and the 2023 plan is the fourth version.

Chip Kline is chairman of the CPRA.

“The master plan is really the state’s vision for the long-term sustainability of south Louisiana, prioritizing how the state intends to spend $50 billion over 50 years,” said Kline.

Edwards highlighted parts of the plan. “The 2023 Coastal Master Plan identifies 77 restoration and risk reduction projects that literally span the entire coast from Cameron Parish in the southwest to St. Bernard Parish in the Southeast,” said Edwards. “These will restore and maintain over 300 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and reduce expected damage by up to $ 15 billion compared to a future without action.”

Legislators also approved a coastal plan for FY’24.

“Fiscal year 2024, we will invest a record-breaking $1.6 billion in coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects across the coast. That includes 147 active projects next year,” said Kline.

Projects that will create jobs, according to Kline.

“A $1.6 billion investment in our coast that will create over 9,500 jobs and will generate over $570 million in income for homes and businesses in the state of Louisiana,” he said.

Further, Kline said the state must always pay attention to the coast.

“Since the first master plan was done in 2007 we have secured close to 30 billion to fund these master plans, that’s $30 billion but one of the things I think is very important for the public to understand about the master plan is the state of Louisiana is always going to have a plan that looks at the long-term sustainability of south Louisiana,” he said.

And as the legislative session winds down, Edwards has not given up on getting a $3,000 pay raise for the state’s public school teachers approved and more money for early childhood education. “What statement are we sending to our teachers, more importantly, what are we saying to our children: that we value them less than our neighboring states?” he said.

The session must end by June 8.

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