BATON ROUGE, La. – Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards commended the Louisiana Legislature for unanimously passing the 2023 Coastal Master Plan and the Fiscal Year 2024 Annual Plan. These two measures, filed as Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 17 by Sen. Bob Hensgens and Rep. Jerome Zeringue and SCR6 by Sen. Hensgens, are imperative to protecting Louisiana’s valuable coast.
“Today marks a monumental day for coastal Louisiana,” said Gov. Edwards. “The projects identified in the 2023 Coastal Master Plan will restore and maintain over 300 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and reduce expected annual damage by up to $15 billion. This builds on the 26,000 acres of coastal land restored and maintained and 83 miles of levees improved since I took office in 2016. I applaud our state lawmakers for their continued bipartisan support for our coastal program and efforts to preserve our irreplaceable coast.”
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is required by statute to update the Coastal Master Plan every six years. The 2023 plan is the fourth iteration and builds on the capabilities and advancements of previous plans. The plan incorporates the best available science and engineering information and community input to prioritize projects for implementation to further CPRA’s mission to protect and restore Louisiana’s coast.
The 2023 Coastal Master Plan, which is the most comprehensive plan to date, provides a path to respond to the loss of our coastal land and the threats from storm surges. Highlights of the plan include:
“The 2023 Coastal Master Plan is a meticulously researched and clearly articulated vision for the long-term sustainability of south Louisiana,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “The plan was developed utilizing the best available science and engineering as well as extensive public input and review to ensure that coastal residents understand not only the challenges we face, but also the plan to attack them. Those residents and all Louisianans should take comfort in the fact that implementing the projects identified in the plan over a 50-year period could reduce risk from tropical storms and hurricanes to coastal communities to less than what the current risk level is today.”
The Annual Plan, which is required by the Louisiana Legislature to be updated each year, details projected revenues and expenditures and forecasts projects that will be undertaken by the state and its partners for the upcoming three years. The Annual Plan also gives an overview of the progress that Louisiana’s coastal program has made toward implementing previous Coastal Master Plans.
The FY24 Annual Plan projects revenues and expenditures of $1.62 billion, which will be used to fund 147 projects across our coast. The plan outlines 21 dredging projects, which will utilize 77.3 million cubic yards of sediment to nourish over 14,500 acres of land across coastal Louisiana in the coming year. It is estimated that an investment in our coast at this level will create nearly 9,000 jobs in the coastal sector.
“I would like to thank Louisiana’s lawmakers for recognizing the importance of approving this year’s Annual Plan, which outlines the largest annual investment CPRA has ever made in our coast,” said CPRA Executive Director Bren Haase. “We remain committed to dedicating the majority of our revenues to implementing projects in order to restore our ecosystem and protect vulnerable communities along our coast. In fiscal year 2024 an estimated $1.3 billion, which is 93% of our projected revenues, will go directly to building some of the largest, strongest, and most innovative projects in the history of our coastal program.”
Sen. Hensgens and Rep. Zeringue, authors of the concurrent resolutions, also commended CPRA for the development of both the Coastal Master Plan and FY24 Annual Plan and thanked their colleagues for supporting the ongoing efforts to protect and restore Louisiana’s coast.
“I want to thank my fellow legislators for recognizing the problems we face along our coast and the importance of these two plans in fighting them,” Sen. Hensgens said. “Having a plan in place will allow CPRA to maintain their current momentum in the battle against land loss. With the approval of these plans, we have a scientifically-sound strategy for combating the challenges we face in our coastal communities.”
“Without the passage of the Coastal Master Plan and the Annual Plan, we would not be able to continue attacking our land loss crisis,” Rep. Zeringue said. “Thanks to the unanimous support of my colleagues, we now have plans in place for building the best projects possible to protect and restore our coast. Following these plans is our best path to a stronger, more resilient coast for the people, ecosystem, and economy of our great state.”