This morning, Governor John Bel Edwards issued an opinion editorial, emphasizing that protecting coastal Louisiana has wide reaching impacts not just for the state, but for the entire nation.
The presidential election spurred a lot of talk about investing in the United States’ infrastructure since it has the power to create jobs and boost the economy while benefiting future generations. Unfortunately, the conversation about infrastructure has not included Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, which is a project that is necessary for protecting coastal Louisiana and preventing economic hardship for 41% of the continental United States.
Prior to the late 1920s, Louisiana was growing about three-quarters of a square mile ever year from the Mississippi River’s natural sediment deposits into the delta. But that growth stopped not long after the great flood of 1927, when levees were constructed that disconnected the Mississippi River from its natural delta. Since that time, Louisiana has lost approximately 1,900 square miles to coastal erosion and those losses are still on-going. Currently, Louisiana loses a football field of coast every hour. But there is still hope for protecting coastal Louisiana.
Since Katrina, Louisiana has taken several steps to help the disappearing coast, including improving over 274 miles of levees and restoring 52 miles of barrier islands and shorelines. While this is a good start, more needs to be done to protect against coastal erosion.
Protecting coastal Louisiana means saving 37 percent of the continental United States’ marshes, which has huge impacts to the commercial fishing industry. If you measure in weight, Louisiana’s coast produces 21% of all commercial fisheries’ landings in the contiguous United States. Protecting coastal Louisiana also means saving five of the United States’ top fifteen ports. Those ports play an integral role in both the agricultural industry as well as the oil and gas industry. Port Fourchon alone services 90% of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil and gas activity. Given this, Governor Edwards urges that “there is no greater return on investment than helping to save coastal Louisiana.”
The Louisiana maritime attorneys at Lambert Zainey help workers injured in the offshore oil and gas industry, and helped many businesses in claims for economic losses after the 2010 BP oil spill.