FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, email@example.com
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Chandler, National Audubon Society, 202.596.0960, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C.—April 26, 2011) Today, five national and local conservation groups praised the Senate Appropriations Committee for approving funding for critical restoration projects in Louisiana, including an effort to use sediment dredged from navigation waterways to recreate critical wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would receive $16.8 million for the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) program to begin construction on LCA ecosystem restoration projects and $9.3 million to study future projects. This funding was part of President Obama’s budget request and was strongly supported by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
"This funding is an important step forward in helping restore critical wetlands around the Mississippi River Delta, as well as helping create new jobs in Louisiana. This is a win-win for the environment and the economy,” said the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation in a joint statement. "Thanks to the Appropriations Committee and Sen. Landrieu, these restoration projects will put sediment from the Mississippi River back to use creating wetlands that act as a speed bump for hurricanes and a natural storm buffer for communities.”
“We hope Congress will include this funding in the final version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill,” the groups continued. “Taking these preventative actions now will make these areas less vulnerable to future disasters."
Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost more than 1,900 square miles of wetlands, an area roughly equivalent to the state of Delaware. The decline of the Mississippi River Delta’s wetlands has dramatically impaired protection from hurricanes and wiped out much of the buffer against future storms and disasters. The loss of wetlands also threatens:
- One of our nation’s most important fisheries
- One of our nation’s most significant port complexes and navigation systems
- Wildlife, including tens of millions of migratory birds and waterfowl
- Domestic energy production and processing
- Communities all along the central Gulf Coast
The federal funding was provided in the Senate Appropriations Committee Report on the FY13 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.
More restoration projects like the ones funded through this budget request would be possible with passage of the RESTORE Act. The legislation would dedicate 80 percent of oil spill penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the 2010 oil spill towards gulf restoration. The RESTORE Act has received strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
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