Earlier today, nine separate organizations focused on restoring Louisiana’s coast – Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Restore or Retreat, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, America’s Wetland Foundation, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, and The Nature Conservancy – sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards urging him to reject a proposal by Representative Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) that would strip $9.3 million from the Executive Department’s budget in an effort to reduce the state’s mid-year deficit.
These cuts would negatively impact the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) – the state agency charged with addressing Louisiana’s worsening land loss crisis. CPRA recently released its draft 2017 Coastal Master Plan and is working to advance large-scale restoration and risk-reduction projects in order to avoid a future in which coastal Louisiana would lose an additional 2,250 square miles of land.
“Our concern is simply that the program will be prevented from effectively playing the essential role of restoring and protecting our coast if these cuts are implemented,” the letter stated.
In addition, the letter highlights how these ongoing mid-year funding cuts particularly impact CPRA, as its operating budget comes directly from the Executive Budget, unlike other state agencies. Over the last three years alone, mid-year funding cuts have diminished the coastal fund by more than $12 million.
Coupled with the dramatic decline in the price of oil, these cuts have “put the coastal program in a precarious position, potentially threatening the ability to perform its duties as prescribed by Louisiana law,” the letter continued. Mineral revenues from state lands are the only source of recurring state funds to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Trust Fund. In fiscal year 2016, these revenues totaled $27.6 million and are expected to fall to $14.6 million in fiscal year 2018.
The organizations noted specifically that funds from the BP settlement are used to implement projects and repair coastal areas, not pay staff salaries and other costs critical to implementing these projects successfully over time. At a time when the state is seeking funds to implement its $50-billion master plan, further reducing state contributions to coastal restoration “sends the wrong signal to our federal partners.”
Leaders from all nine organizations signed the letter stating, “We strongly oppose this proposal by Representative Harris, which we believe will have negative and consequential impacts to a program critical to the future of our state and nation.”
Read the letter in full here.
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.
Restore the Mississippi River Delta is a nonpartisan coalition working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces an ongoing and severe land loss crisis, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at www.mississippiriverdelta.org.