Groups Urge Edwards to Protect Coastal Funding, Advance Master Plan for Long-term Prosperity of State

(New Orleans – March 14, 2016)  Today, the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards signed by 29 Louisiana business associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and civic groups urging him to protect funding for coastal restoration and to move forward with the implementation of the state’s Coastal Master Plan.

The groups thanked Governor Edwards for his leadership in protecting coastal restoration funds from mid-year budget cuts and for his continued statements that coastal funds should only be used for coastal restoration and protection. “Our ongoing land loss crisis creates significant business risks to the many industries that depend on a healthy Gulf ecosystem,” said the letter. “A recent study prepared for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority evaluated the economic impact of coastal land loss in the state.

Their report showed that another 25 years of continued land loss would cost residents and business owners $2.1 billion to replace commercial and residential properties, roads, rails and pipelines lost due to erosion. Disruption to business activities during that same time period would cause an additional loss of $5.8 billion. Implementing our Coastal Master Plan can help reduce such losses.” “Investing in coastal restoration will not only reduce the economic impact to businesses and communities, but will actually grow the economy through development of a new water management sector and expertise,” continued the letter.

“The expected infusion of billions of dollars in coming years from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlements, GOMESA and other sources will fuel the creation of jobs and expansion of companies working in this sector.” A recent analysis by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition based on The Data Center’s methodology shows that water management – which includes coastal restoration, coastal protection and urban water management – is the fastest growing industry in southeast Louisiana, with more than 32,000 jobs.

Coastal restoration is not only the biggest job creator in the region, it also has some of the highest-paying jobs, averaging $69,277 per year. “Coastal restoration projects will not only rebuild our vanishing coast – they will create and sustain jobs, protect communities and provide a sustainable future for the people and industries that call Louisiana home,” said Steve Cochran, Campaign Director for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition.

“By safeguarding coastal dollars for coastal efforts, the state is keeping its commitment to restoring and protecting Louisiana’s coast.” “Coastal restoration and protection will create long-lasting, good-paying jobs and be an economic driver for Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, President of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “As evidenced in GNO, Inc.’s ‘State of the Sector: Water Management’ report, there are currently 30,350 people employed in the water management sector in the Greater New Orleans region. Additionally, this sector is predicted to grow by 23 percent over the next ten years. And with the influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in oil spill money for coastal restoration over the next 16 years – money that is dedicated solely to this growing industry – we will continue to create jobs and provide economic opportunities for the people and industries of coastal Louisiana.”

“The citizens and businesses of Louisiana are relying on you, as our new governor, to prioritize coastal restoration, protect coastal restoration funding and continue to implement restoration plans,” concluded the letter. “Thank you for your continuing attention to this top priority for Louisiana business interests and citizens.” Read the letter in full along with all signers here: LINK.

Reposted from MississippiRiverDelta.org

Governor Edwards Businesses Letter formatted FINALv2