Posted December 11, 2018
Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Johnny Bradberry, who has overseen Louisiana’s coastal restoration and hurricane levee construction since January 2016, is stepping down effective Jan. 1 to pursue an opportunity in the private sector, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday (Dec. 6).
Chip Kline, now deputy director for coastal activities in the governor’s office, was named interim chairman of the CPRA and executive assistant to the governor.
“Protecting and restoring our coast is one of the state’s most important efforts, and Johnny has worked steadfastly at ensuring it continues to support communities that rely on it now and will for future generations,” Edwards said in a news release. “His leadership has helped elevate the implementation and advancement of coastal projects that are integral to the state’s coastal program, and I am grateful for his service. I wish him much success in his new endeavor.”
As executive assistant for coastal activities in the governor’s office and chairman of the coastal authority board, Bradberry oversaw the 2017 rewrite of the states’ coastal Master Plan, a $50 billion, 50-year plan for both restoration and storm surge protection projects. He also helped design the make-up of the rapidly-growing coastal agency to handle what is quickly becoming a $1 billion or more annual budget for those projects.
“It’s been the honor of my professional career to serve Gov. Edwards and the many contingencies that represent coastal Louisiana,” said Bradberry in the news release. “I feel comfortable knowing that I am leaving the coastal program better than I found it, and I am leaving it in capable hands. I will always be grateful to Gov. Edwards for this opportunity and thankful that he truly is a champion of our coast.”
Bradberry did not say where he will be working next. He was one of Edwards’ first appointments after the governor took office in January 2016.
Bradberry, a civil engineer, was vice president of business development for Volkert, an infrastructure engineering firm, before his stint overseeing the state’s coastal programs.
He had earlier served as secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development under former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, including during the time when CPRA was formed with employees from both the transportation agency and the Department of Natural Resources.
Bradberry, a native of Grand Isle, was able to shepherd the 2017 plan rewrite to unanimous approvals by the Legislature, winning the votes even of some Republicans skeptical of climate change despite the plan’s dire warnings that sea level rise caused in part by global warming threatens to overwhelm numerous coastal communities during the next 50 years.
He also was able to move forward the state’s proposed Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project, representing the state in negotiations with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation about spending BP and Transocean criminal penalty money on the project’s initial design. That was one of dozens of projects he oversaw that are being infused with money coming to the state as a result of the BP spill in 2010.
Bradberry also sidestepped efforts by Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier III to block soil tests required for the diversion, and helped in negotiating with both the Obama and Trump administration a speeding of the permitting process for the project that could result in its construction beginning in 2020.
Kline, who will lead the coastal authority, had served as chairman and coastal advisor to former Gov. Bobby Jindal during the year before Bradberry took over. He had replaced Jerome Zeringue, who resigned in January 2015 to successfully run for a seat representing Houma in the state House of Representatives.
Kline had also served as deputy director for coastal activities under Zeringue, and earlier as a policy advisor for coastal issues in the governor’s office. Before that, Kline served as a special assistant to former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.