Baton Rouge - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an emergency proclamation declaring the Louisiana Coast in a state of crisis and emergency. The emergency proclamation will be sent to President Donald Trump and members of Congress as a necessary means of raising the national profile of this crisis and expediting priority restoration projects with the level of urgency those projects require.
“The Louisiana coast is in a state of crisis that demands immediate and urgent action to avert further damage to one of our most vital resources,” said Gov. Edwards. “Immediately addressing this crisis will rejuvenate Louisiana’s economy and provide benefits across generations and positively impact the nation’s economy, including energy production; transportation and refining; intermodal commerce and trade; fisheries; disaster resilience; and natural resources.”
Louisiana’s coast is home to over half of the state’s population and significant industries that provide jobs, taxes, and products that are intertwined with the entire state’s wellbeing and economic productivity. These coastal resources are also vital to the national interest in the areas of energy, chemicals, international trade, fisheries, and national defense.
The governor’s emergency proclamation will deliver tangible benefits to the people and industries of Louisiana by allowing state agencies to streamline the implementation of integrated coastal protection efforts. With unprecedented funding for large-scale restoration projects on hand, the proclamation will help expedite those projects and more quickly put that money to work by making the case for flexibility within the federal regulatory process, which normally slows down the permitting process.
Building on the outreach Gov. Edwards has already done to President Trump in a letter last month regarding priority coastal protection infrastructure projects and burdensome federal regulations, today’s emergency proclamation arms the state with a new, three pronged approach to expediting restoration projects. The state aims to secure efficiencies in the current permitting process at the state level, to garner formal and increased attention from President Trump and federal agencies of Louisiana’s coastal crisis; and to solicit support from Congress to pass changes to the federal regulations to expedite all federal permitting and environmental review, including creation of waivers, categorical exemptions, alternative measures or expedited processes.
Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities and Board Chairman to Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Johnny Bradberry, submitted a request to the governor for the proclamation, which included a recent statement issued by the governor, “we are in a race against time to save our coast, and it is time we make bold decisions.”“This clearly highlights the support and recognition that Gov. Edwards has about the criticality of the state of our coast, and further demonstrates that he is clearly is a Coastal Governor,” said Bradberry.
An estimated 2,250 square miles of coastal Louisiana is expected to be lost in the next 50 years if immediate and urgent action is not taken to reverse this trend. Coastal shorelines, marshes and swamps serve as a vital barrier and a first line of defense against storm surge and flooding along the Louisiana coast are disappearing.