By: R. King Milling, Letter Appeared in The Advocate | 6.14.2007One of the most important issues of our day - one that will have a lasting impact on state sovereignty and the legacy we leave future generations is now before the Louisiana Legislature. For the first time in history, the state is in a position to lead federal agencies and demonstrate its seriousness about turning back the tide of coastal erosion before it's too late.
The Legislature sent a strong message by unanimously approving the
comprehensive Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Master Plan,
which followed citizens passing, by an overwhelming 83 percent, three
constitutional amendments to ensure that federal dollars were spent on
restoring the coast.
Now it is imperative that the Legislature swiftly approve funding measures
that will ultimately yield many times the investment. Their actions will
literally set in motion coastal restoration we have been seeking for more
than three decades.
The scope and complexity of the challenge facing the state to restore and
manage our coastal areas is unprecedented. We must establish on the front
end a capacity to develop engineering and scientific supported programs and
projects covering four separate and distinct basins across the entire state.
It is a wise investment to keep our funding here, with the state in charge
of this process and ahead of our federal partners, rather than follow the
lead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which appears incapable of meeting
or understanding the need for urgency as it applies to south Louisiana.
The question of urgency is paramount. In the first few years there will be
an ongoing need to gear up for future activities the likes of which the
state has never experienced. It is a prudent investment to begin now to
spend the upfront money required to meet the obligations and demands that
will be placed upon this state as subsequent annual plans are submitted for
approval. It is also plain good business sense to do this.
The best way to send a strong message to Congress, as the federal government
determines ways to distribute funds, is to show that we have the ability to
lead and to provide the necessary match for our share of funding. The path
we must take is as clear as the unanimous action the Legislature took to
ready us for this important journey by approving the Master Plan.
We have come too far and worked too hard to put ourselves in a position
where, but for the infusion of upfront funding sources, we cannot clearly
establish the fact that this is our plan, developed to control our own
R. King Milling, chairman, America's WETLAND Foundation, New Orleans
The America's WETLAND Foundation manages the largest, most comprehensive public education campaign in Louisiana's history, raising public awareness of the impact of Louisiana's wetland loss on the state, nation and world. The America's Energy Coast initiative works to sustain the environmental and economic assets of the Gulf Coast region. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth. For more information, visit www.americaswetland.com or www.futureofthegulfcoast.org.
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