Read the morning headlines, and you’ll find plenty of evidence that many elected officials aren’t thinking past the next election cycle.
That kind of short-term thinking isn’t going to work very well in addressing the crisis of coastal erosion in Louisiana. Restoring Louisiana’s coast will require a clear and concerted plan executed over many years — not only by today’s generation of leaders, but their successors. And given the huge scale of the problem and the need for action at both the state and federal levels, advocates of coastal protection in Louisiana also must depend on support across party lines.
Garret Graves, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s point man on coastal erosion, seemed to acknowledge those realities in his recent speech before the Press Club of Baton Rouge. Graves, who chairs the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, credited Jindal’s predecessor, Kathleen Blanco, for advancing the more integrated approach to coastal preservation that coastal advocates are building upon. Graves also expressed thanks to President Barack Obama for appointing a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to study current challenges facing the coast.
Graves said he’s hoping the task force will help change the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handles projects that touch on coastal protection and restoration. Graves said the process is much too slow, with projects languishing on the drawing board for years while the coast continues to erode.
Levee projects implemented since the Great Flood of 1927 have limited the Mississippi River’s ability to deliver replenishing sediment to coastal areas. Energy exploration practices over the years also have damaged the coast.
“We’ve lost 1,900 square miles since 1930,” Graves told listeners. “This isn’t about Louisiana; it’s about the nation. … The urgency here couldn’t be greater.”
Graves noted the national importance of Louisiana’s coast as a fishery, an energy corridor and a venue for many other kinds of commerce.
We hope people beyond Louisiana get that message, and act upon it.