Louisiana's State Of The Coast Conference Gears Up
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana's future depends on saving as much of the coast as possible, the mayor of New Orleans and the state's governor said Wednesday.
"There isn't much that can get me out of Baton Rouge when the Legislature is in session but the state of the coast is that important," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. He and Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke as the fifth State of the Coast Conference opened. The conference is held every other year.
Cantrell said, "We not only have to protect it, but in protecting it we have to live with water." She said that include, for instance, finding ways to "dig up that old cement and driveways" so stormwater soaks into the ground instead of running into drains.
Edwards said coastal protection and restoration seems to avoid much of the partisanship that divides the state in most areas.
"The stakes are too high," he said.
And, he added, "The worst-case scenario of a couple years ago, in some places has become the best-case scenario." He didn't elaborate on that statement.
He said the state's advantages include its coastal master plan, now in its third version. "We have learned a tremendous amount about our environment, the needs of our communities, and how we can work with nature to reduce flooding and aid our environment."
With money now coming in from both the BP PLC settlement from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 and a federal revenue-sharing agreement from offshore oil royalties, Edwards said, "we finally have the ability to implement projects on a scale we have heretofore only imagined."
Cantrell, who spoke before Edwards, talked about lobbying Congress in 2006 for that revenue-sharing agreement, as part of a group formed after Hurricane Katrina and called Women of the Storm.
The state showed its commitment with a constitutional amendment, approved by the Legislature and voters, requiring the revenue-sharing money to go into coastal restoration and protection, Cantrell said.
"We said it with our vote," she said.
– by Janet McConnaughey, AP reporter