Coastal restoration efforts get a boost

August 01, 2014 at 10:14 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The long-awaited restoration of Louisiana’s valuable coast got somewhat of a boost last week when the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council announced it will start receiving project proposals in August to repair damage resulting from the BP oil spill in 2010. Hopefully it will spur announcements of other coastal restoration projects that are still in need.

We have made some progress in accomplishing some of the coastal restoration needed under Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, but not enough. The plan, issued in January 2012, will cost at least $50 billion with some projects already in progress but many more to come in the future. Hopefully the money will be available to pay for them.

Features of the master plan include the nation’s largest investment, $17 billion in sediment mining and marsh creation projects that will provide land building benefits for areas in dire need. It would use up to 50 percent of the Mississippi River’s peak flow for sediment diversions in addition to water and sediment from the Atchafalaya River.

The plan includes investment in restoring barrier islands, headlands and shorelines as critical habitats and as a first line of defense against storm surge. Just recently, announcements were made of some such scheduled restorations along the southeast Louisiana coast.

This is not just a plan to restore the coast for a short term. Benefits are scheduled to even accelerate after 50 years, when much of the plan is completed, and continue well beyond as a hoped for permanence of the existence of Louisiana’s rich coast.

The announcement of proposals for repairs to BP’s damage, which could amount to $17 billion, is encouraging because that was not included in the normal amount of coastal deterioration caused environmentally that has occurred in Louisiana through the years. It also does not include the damage caused by other oil and gas productions that are normally underway along the coast.

In the long run, we have to make preservation of the Louisiana coast an ongoing goal. Part of that responsibility belongs to companies in addition to BP who profit from their productions and in the past have failed to repay the damages they caused.

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