We’ve been waiting for much too long to get coastal restoration for Louisiana along the Gulf of Mexico going at a fast rate of speed. Now we understand that some of the money due us as civil penalties from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe could arrive within a year. Hallelujah!
We can recall as far back as the 1990s pleading that the government get started in saving our coast. But there were always excuses, indifference and other forms of delays as some 1,900 square miles of coast that had provided us with hurricane protection washed away.
A few important projects were undertaken and completed such as the fresh water diversion project right here in St. Charles Parish that seems to have done a great deal of good. But they have been far too few to help alleviate the problem.
Our state already has a master plan for coastal restoration that received unanimous approval from the state legislature last year and includes many new projects that are ready for construction right away. As soon as that money from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy arrives, work should get started.
Another big help would be the planned increase in offshore oil royalties going to the coastal states alongside the Gulf. Texas is fortunate. It gets royalties out to 10 miles from the coast which was part of the agreement when it was admitted to the union. Louisiana and other coastal states, however, collect only up to 3 miles from the coast.
But the feds have agreed to give Louisiana and other coastal states a better deal up to 10 miles out beginning in the year 2017. Our senators and congressmen need to bring that date closer to the present.
There are many ways we can become residents of a solid state again. We can rebuild the barrier islands which are our first line of defense. There is plenty of sand out there in the bottom of the Gulf that can be relocated to serve that purpose.
We also have the greatest river in the world transporting tons of sediment that could build up our coast naturally as it once did. But then when we started leveeing the river, it quit doing so. But we can restore that benefit with more diversions and by pumping sediment from the river bottom through pipelines into areas in need of fill.
Our master plan for restoration is a good one. We have the most productive coast in the country, if not the world, when one considers the minerals we derive from offshore drilling and the commercial seafood that feeds our people.
We just need a solid coast from which to produce it. And we need it as soon as possible before there’s nothing left but water out there.