BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana’s largest source of money to pay for coastal restoration will run dry in the next 10 years, according to the Public Affairs Research (PAR) Council of Louisiana.
“This is not an immediate issue, but it is an important issue,” said Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana President Dr. Steven Procopio.
After the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 damaged Louisiana’s coastal ecosystems by dumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana was awarded $8.7 billion in settlement and recovery money. That money is dedicated to that state’s Coastal Master Plan including restoration work and reduction of flood risks.
“This isn’t a small source of funding, this is like the largest recurring source of funding that we have,” Dr. Procopio said.
The majority of the project was dedicated to coastal projects starting in 2017 and is designated to last until 2031. According to PAR, the Coastal Master Plan is aimed at “combatting alarming levels of land loss
across southern parishes that is driven by climate change, subsidence, sea level rise, hurricanes, levees
constructed around the Mississippi River and other causes.”
“Anything that essentially helps with coastal restoration or protection, flooding, it goes all the way from barrier islands to protective reefs to diversions, to levees,” Dr. Procopio said.
But that money won’t last forever, and Dr. Procopio wants Louisiana to plan ahead so when the money eventually runs out there are other sources of financial stability to keep these projects funded.
“It is an enormous amount of money and when it goes away, it will be tough to replace it,” Dr. Procopio said. “You look at how many people live in flood areas, how much of our industry is in areas that are affected by coastal restoration, it is a large issue.”
Before the settlement dollars, Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan was funded by state and federal funding from oil and gas production and federal money from fuel taxes and excise taxes on fishing equipment and boats, according to PAR.
“We still have other sources but it’s nothing that you could ignore, it’s things that we need to start looking for if we want to continue to protect the coast,” Dr. Procopio said.