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Coast requires restoration at a high level of urgency
Gov. John Bel Edwards declared the Louisiana coast in a state of emergency April 19, 2017, to give national attention to coastal land loss. The letter, sent to President Donald J. Trump and members of Congress, aims to highlight the severity of the issue and further expedite priority restoration projects to a higher level of urgency. The state of emergency extends to May 17.
"The Louisiana coast is in a state of crisis and emergency that requires immediate and urgent action and attention to avert further injury to the lives, property, health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Louisiana and the nation," Edwards said in his letter.
The letter builds on Edward's request last month to expedite five high-priority projects, including the Houma Navigation Canal lock complex, after Trump's recent executive order sought to speed environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects.
The letter outlines the need for urgency with statistics and examples, explaining why saving the coast is so important to the state. If no additional action is taken, Louisiana is expected to lose 2,250 sq miles of coastline over the next 50 years, Edwards said in his letter.
Edwards recommended projects and programs in the 2017 Coastal Master Plan and 2018 Fiscal Year Annual Plan be moved forward as quickly as possible, especially with permitting under local, state and federal laws.
The Coastal Master Plan was passed Wednesday by the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority and is headed to the state Legislature for final approval. The first version of the master plan was developed in 2007 and requires updating every five years.
Johnny Bradberry, executive assistant to Edwards for coastal activities and CPRA chairman, recently asked Edwards for this proclamation.
"We are in a race against time to save our coast, and it is time we make bold decisions," Bradberry said in a statement "This clearly highlights the support and recognition that Gov. Edwards has about the criticality of the state of our coast, and further demonstrates that he is clearly is a Coastal Governor."
The America's Wetland Foundation has since announced its support for Edward's decision to declare the coast in a state of emergency.
"This declaration of emergency could greatly speed up the process and eliminate delays in permitting for some of these crucial projects," said King Milling, the foundation's chairman. "We urge President Trump to act on this declaration now. This would give us the means to expedite Louisiana's coastal restoration efforts that is important to the entire nation."