SLIDELL — Up to $13 million to $14 million may be available each year for infrastructure directly affected by coastal land loss, and a state board on Wednesday proposed the criteria it would use to decide how the money gets spent.
Each project proposal turned into the state by November of each year will be evaluated on a list of factors that include its purpose, benefits, how well it matches with the state’s coastal master plan and how well it helps communities. The community support can come in direct benefits, such as providing evacuation routes, to more indirect uses, such as providing leverage to acquire additional funding.
Most of the expected $130 million to $140 million per year the state expects to receive from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act is slated for coastal protection and restoration work. GOMESA was passed in 2006 and gives states a larger share of offshore oil and gas revenue.
The legislature decided to allow up to 10 percent of that money to be used for roads and other work that is directly impacted by Louisiana’s coastal land loss.
“We don’t want to fund community centers (with this money),” Chip Kline, deputy director for coastal activities in the Governor’s Office, told the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board Wednesday.
A competitive process will be used to evaluate projects and the final decisions will be made by the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board.
“It’s critical to understand that this is a maximum amount. There’s no guarantee,” said Johnny Bradberry, executive assistant to the governor for coastal activities and the coastal authority’s chairman.
Public meetings will be held on the proposed projects. The hearings will be held along with ones set up to take comment on the state’s annual plan for coastal spending. Project approvals will come in March or April each year.
The new project selection process stems from a discussion last year in which proponents of the project to elevate La. 1 in Lafourche Parish wanted money left over from the Deepwater Horizon settlement work to be used for the La. 1 job.
A portion of La. 1 between Golden Meadow and the vital offshore facility at Port Fourchon has already been elevated but there is additional work to be done to make sure the road is out of harms way when waters rise.
Coastal activists and members of the state coastal board protested that proposal, calling it a slippery slope that could lead to the raiding of the Deepwater Horizon money for projects other than coastal restoration and protection.
An agreement was reached in October that withdrew the request for Deepwater Horizon money and replaced with money out of a different pot of money — GOMESA.
The public can comment until July 1 on the projects spending criteria.
Public comment on the proposal can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org or to CPRA, Attn: Chuck Perrodin, P.O. Box 44027, Baton Rouge, La. 70804-4027.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.