Posted on April 10, 2023
Louisiana has made some major investments in protecting and restoring its coast, but the money that is paying for such investments is nearing the end.
Now, the state is looking for how to keep the ball rolling and replace the funds.
Louisiana’s coast is disappearing. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority spent billions of dollars working to slow the loss.
“We’re in a race against time,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline.
These historic investments into projects such as restoring the barrier island, building a marsh, and fortifying levees, were largely funded by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Those billions of dollars are set to run out in just nine years.
They have also enjoyed payments from the state due to surplus dollars. That kind of money can’t be relied on to always be there or an administration in place that wants to allocate extra money to the coastal projects.
Without action, the coastal master plan shows that many coastal communities could see several feet of storm surge in future hurricanes and there will be significant marshland loss.
“That masterplan can result in literally hundreds of square miles of our coast being here 50 years from now that wouldn’t otherwise be there and reduce risk less than we experience,” said CPRA Executive Director Ben Haase.
The national flood insurance ratings and insurance costs along the coast are unaffordable to many homeowners, CPRA hopes some of their projects can reduce risk and make companies more at ease to write policies.
CPRA emphasizes that it is on good financial footing as of now and for the next few years. It is not until FY32 that the oil spill money will be dried up. Right now the state only puts about $15-30 million annually into the CPR trust fund from the state mineral revenue. The federal government awards grants for coastal projects, but there is a dollar match the state is expected to pay.
There is legislation in Washington aimed at bringing more money in from offshore energy production through the RISEE and BREEZE acts that are working their way through Congress, each being led by a member of the Louisiana delegation.
There are also local bills in the state legislature to get a share of alternative energy production on state land, similar to oil production. CPRA leaders face the challenge of convincing legislators to make these changes now before the fiscal cliff hits.
“It affects every single aspect so without flood protection, without coastal restoration, nothing else really matters,” Kline said.
Without the oil spill money, the state will return to only about $200 million being put towards these projects, compared to this year where 1.7 billion is projected to be spent.