Edwards orders state agencies to adhere to Coastal Master Plan

Governor: BP dollars designated for coastal restoration will not be used to balance the budget

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order on Monday directing all state agencies to operate in a manner consistent with Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, with BP dollars designated for restoration projects not being diverted to assist with the state’s budgetary crisis.

“The Louisiana coast is vital to our heritage and our economy, which is why doing everything within our power to ensure that it is restored and protected must be a priority,” Edwards said in a press release. “The Coastal Master Plan provides safe and sustainable ways in which all departments can operate, thereby helping to ensure that the coast continues to be productive.”

The state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has developed projects detailed in the Coastal Master Plan that are designed to reduce flooding and rebuild wetlands. These projects are the state’s best chance of preventing land loss, saving the coast and protecting our communities and businesses, the release states.

“Facing an historic budget deficit this year, we were able to use non-coastal BP dollars to help with the FY 2016 budget. However no dollars designated for restoring the coast were used,” Edwards said. “I will continue to only spend money allocated for coastal projects on coastal issues. Using our funds responsibly assures Congress that we are serious about saving our coast and deserving of the federal dollars needed to preserve Louisiana’s coast for generations to come.

“We only need to look to the recent wave of severe weather throughout our coastal zone —which exposed many of our people to flooding they have never experienced — in order to understand that when the coast erodes so does the valuable protection it provides. Each year we lose a substantial amount of wetlands and that must be stopped. The protection and abundant resources provided by our coast are too important to our state and our nation.”

The CPRA chairman pointed out recent successes with the Authority.

“Restoration projects developed by the Coastal Master Plan are working,” Chairman Johnny Bradberry said in the release. “Approximately 40,000 football fields of land have been rebuilt since 2009, and the list goes on. We look forward to working with all state agencies to help build on the successes achieved so far.”

What CPRA has accomplished to date:

• $18 billion secured for protection and restoration projects

• 112.3 million cubic yards of fill placed (or now being placed)

• 30,637 acres of land benefited (about 40,000 football fields)

• 274 miles of levee improvement

• 52 miles of barrier islands and berms constructed or under construction

• 20 parishes with constructed projects

• 9 active dredges in 2015

• A 2011 Green Jobs Study showed that CPRA restoration spending of $618 million resulted in 8,900 total jobs and $1.1 billion in sales

To view the governor’s executive order, click here.