We’ve pointed out many times in the past few decades there are three things needed to protect and restore the Louisiana coast. They are restoration of the barrier islands, diversion of fresh river water into the wetlands and pumping sediment from the bottom of the river into the wetlands.
And what have we gotten? Very little.
If we had done those things to any great extent, the Louisiana coast would be in good shape now. Our wetlands would be thriving and we would have very little erosion. It would be a stable coast, able to resist hurricane surges and . . . the encroachment of oil spills.
We blame the federal government for not responding to our needs and its need to preserve its own coast.
So far we have had mediocre attempts to restore some barrier islands which did little to really bring them back to serve their needed purpose. We have had two major fresh water diversions, one in St. Charles Parish, but we need many more . . . like one every 20 miles or so along the river which would somewhat replicate the way the river water would overflow the banks and build up the land before the levees were built.
And very little sediment has been pumped from the river bed to build up the wetlands. In fact, we are mainly still studying it.
The federal government gets almost all of the oil money from offshore wells. And it also gets most of the tax money paid in this country.
States are left with very little in comparison. And Louisiana cannot up state taxes enough to preserve a coast that also serves our rich federal government.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is trying to get the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow British Petroleum, which owns the spilling oil well, to build up our barrier islands by dredging sand from the Gulf and depositing it on the islands. On Tuesday, he was expecting to get an answer that day or the next. Hopefully it was a positive answer.
To wrap it all up, the federal government has failed to protect its coast. It has failed to help undo the damage which building of the levees has done by not letting the river deposit fresh water and sediment along our coast. Oil companies also have failed to help undo the damage their digging of oilfield canals have caused. And the state has received very little of the money the feds get from offshore wells to help restore our coast, money that the state could use to help do the job itself.
The offshore islands and wetlands, as we have said before, are our first line of defense. Their restoration now is necessary for the future well being of the country’s most productive coast.