It would have been a much easier job to restore the coast of Louisiana many years ago not long after the leveeing of the Mississippi stopped the river from overflowing and leaving the sediment to build up the wetlands. Not so today.
And it would have been an easier job to restore those wetlands that deteriorated fast if we had diverted the river water over that levee to still build up the wetlands which today are disappearing at a football field size per hour or so. It’s not so simple today.
It takes us a while to learn how to do things in this country with the inefficiency of government. We knew long ago we had to divert water through the river levees to let the sediment continue to build up our valuable wetlands. And we had the plans to do it along with an estimate of how much money it would take – – at one time about $15 billion.
But we didn’t. Instead, we let the wetlands erode away to where, today, they are almost incapable of holding back a serious oil spill or hurricane surge.
Now, we have one last chance. Tuesday’s Times Picayune had an ad from America’s Wetlands Foundation and cooperating organizations applauding the federal government’s allocation of short-term recovery needs but deploring the fact that long-term recovery efforts – – coastal restoration – – waits in limbo.
The cooperating organizations include Ducks Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, Audubon and The Nature Conservancy. They urge the federal government to bring together Congress and federal agencies to:
– – Accelerate revenue sharing to Gulf producing states for coastal restoration.
– – Immediately fund construction of already-authorized projects to reconnect the Mississippi River with its Delta wetlands and restore crucial barrier islands.
– – Establish a dedicated long-term funding stream sufficient for coastal restoration.
– – Ensure that a significant percentage of penalty money paid by British Petroleum is dedicated to coastal restoration as reparations for the contamination of thousands of acres of coastal marsh that cannot be cleaned up.
– – Cut red tape to allow immediate distribution of existing Federal appropriations for restoration, including more than $1 billion in Coastal Impact Assistance Funds for coastal states.
– – Put in place a federal-state authority with the capacity, will and resources to get the job of restoration done in time to build on existing land and prevent loss rates that will exponentially increase without action.
That would be a great program to pursue. It is what our federal and state governments should have been doing all along to avoid the present problems we are now facing.