News > Press Releases
Feb 04, 2014
BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced Garret Graves will step down as Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), a role he has held for over six years. In his place, the Governor announced the appointment of Jerome Zeringue. Graves’ last day will be February 17.
Within a few months of his appointment, Graves began one of the most significant streamlining efforts in the history of the state's coastal program. He led Louisiana’s efforts to improve hurricane protection and coastal restoration following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and helped coordinate the state’s response and recovery to Hurricanes Gustav, Ike, Isaac, tropical storms, historic water levels on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers and the BP oil spill.
Governor Jindal said, “After years of repetitive studies from the federal government, wasteful spending, bureaucracy and red tape, Garret helped transform the state’s coastal restoration and hurricane protection program into national models. Because of Garret’s work, we’ve built and improved more miles of levees and restored more acres of Louisiana's coast than ever before.
“Garret came in with an entirely new vision of government efficiency. He restructured components of five different agencies to reduce duplication and expedite dozens of stalled community protection and coastal restoration projects. Garret did all of this while helping us respond to Hurricanes Gustav, Ike, Isaac, multiple tropical storms, record high water on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers and the nation's worst environmental disaster.
“Garret is a fighter that doesn't take no for an answer, and he has gained respect from the Legislature, parish leaders as well as business and community leaders. Garret has a strong passion for Louisiana and I know that he will have a very bright future.”
Chairman Graves said, “This has been the best job ever and I would not trade these experiences for anything. It has been such an honor to work with so many good people in Louisiana that want nothing more than to learn from the mistakes of Hurricane Katrina and make our state more resilient. Serving on the CPRA has really been more like mission work than a job.
“When you protect our communities from flooding and restore the coast, you protect nearly 700,000 jobs and over $120 billion in annual economic activity associated with our energy, maritime and seafood industries alone. These are investments in the resiliency of homes, businesses and our approach has created new industry and employment opportunities in Louisiana.
“There is a great team at the CPRA, the progress has been incredible and the program is on the right trajectory to continue setting records. Meanwhile, I look forward to spending time with family and deciding upon the next challenges and opportunities.”
Highlights of Graves’ accomplishments include:
First time sediment was mined from the Mississippi River for a wetlands restoration project (Bayou Dupont);
First time sediment was dredged from the Mississippi River out to create/restore barrier islands (Pelican and Shell islands);
First time offshore shoals in federal waters were mined to restore barrier headlands (Caminada and Cameron shorelines);
Dredging the Mississippi River up to 90 feet for restoration sediments
Cutting project contracting times in half.
To replace Graves, Governor Jindal selected a veteran in hurricane protection and coastal restoration, Jerome Zeringue. Zeringue, or “Zee,” currently serves as the Executive Director of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Governor Jindal said, “Making Louisiana more resilient to hurricanes and floods is one of the highest priorities in the state. We need a seamless transition to continue the great progress made over the last six years. Zee has been here since day one of my administration and has great respect among parish and levee district leaders and has a long and distinguished history in implementing coastal projects. He is a great fit for the job.”
Graves said, “There are just a few people in this world that rank up there with Zee. His integrity is impeccable and his dedication to Louisiana is strong. You can count on Zee doing the right thing 100 percent of the time. He has earned tremendous respect and will do a great job.”
Zeringue said, “As a resident of Houma, I have watched our coast disappear and our communities become more vulnerable every year. I have also witnessed how the right investments in hurricane protection and coastal restoration can pay dividends. There are two choices in Louisiana – we can aggressively move forward in implementing the coastal master plan or we can repeat the Katrina scenario in south Louisiana over and over again.”
Prior to his appointment as executive director, Zeringue served as deputy executive director of the CPRA and as a coastal activities advisor in the governor's office. A native of Thibodaux, Zeringue previously served as director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a master’s degree in Fisheries Biology, both from Louisiana State University. Zeringue worked as a fisheries biologist at LSU Sea Grant and assisted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on seafood regulations, then as the coastal resources director for the Nature Conservancy of Louisiana. He also helped to establish the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge.
Mr. Zeringue has extensive experience advocating for coastal protection and restoration matters on a federal, state and local level.
Kyle Graham will replace Zeringue as Executive Director.