UPDATE: All four candidates for Governor have released statements saying that they do not support Bobby Jindal’s attempt to allow cost-savings from restoration projects to be used for LA1 road construction.
Jay Dardenne said that he would reverse the policy should it pass on Wednesday: “If I am elected governor, I commit to reversing this policy should it pass at the upcoming Oct. 21 meeting or any subsequent meeting,” Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne wrote in response to a letter from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. “Even if such diversion is legal, it is not the right thing to do.”
During the Oct. 14 gubernatorial debate, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards said that every dollar the state receives needs to go toward projects outlined in the state’s master plan for coastal restoration and protection. At an estimated cost of $50 billion, there is no such thing as “extra” money that will be left over from the Deepwater Horizon funding. “If we do that one time, every legislator throughout Louisiana is going to look at that money as a piggy bank,” Edwards said.
Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle said it’s been a long-standing policy of the state that the money would be used for the master plan. “I absolutely would not allow any money in the BP settlement to be spent on anything else than coastal restoration,” Angelle said.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, in a written statement Friday, said: “While I strongly support La. 1, I oppose this proposal. First, it potentially shifts BP money away from coastal restoration, which must remain our top priority. Second, this is more budget gimmickry and fuzzy math from Bobby Jindal, the sort of stuff that’s helped create the budget mess we’re in.”
Candidates for state treasurer also weighed in, with incumbent John Kennedy saying he’d work with the next governor to come up with alternatives. Kennedy called coastal restoration vital to the future of Louisiana. The elevation of La. 1 is also important, but the state can’t divert money from coastal restoration to do it. Instead, Kennedy said, it’s possible that money could be funded like portions of Interstate 49, via unclaimed property bonds.
Read the full article here: http://theadvocate.com/news/13722827-123/candidates-for-governor-treasurer-oppose
Gov. Bobby Jindal has asked coastal restoration officials to change state policy to allow some of the BP oil spill settlement to be used to pay for part of the remaining $350 million extension of Louisiana Highway 1 connecting Port Fourchon with Golden Meadow.
The elevation of Highway 1 is an important project for the businesses and communities that depend on it. The loss of surrounding wetlands is an increasing threat. But the funds Louisiana has planned to spend from penalties from the oil spill on badly-needed coastal restoration projects should not be used for a road project. Using coastal restoration funds for transportation projects sets a terrible precedent. Any “cost savings” should be applied to the long list of coastal projects Louisiana has identified in the coastal master plan.
Take Action: Call Governor Jindal’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Stafford Palmieri, at Governor Jindal’s office at 225-342-7015 and ask to leave a message for Ms. Palmieri. Tell her it’s paramount that coastal restoration dollars be spent on actual coastal restoration activities and you oppose any efforts that would take critical funds away from restoration projects. Our future depends on safeguarding the funds available to carry out restoration, and Louisiana has a $50 billion master plan it needs implemented. There is not a penny to spare.
Also consider attending the next CPRA Meeting on October 21st to tell the CPRA Board to Vote NO to using RESTORE dollars for Highway 1 elevation. The State and CPRA have publicly declared many times that funds from the RESTORE Act will go to fund a multi-year plan of projects contained within the state’s Master Plan. The proposed Highway 1 bridge project is not a Master Plan project and funding it from these coastal restoration sources would renege on what the State and CPRA have already publicly committed.
CPRA Meeting Details:
October 21, 2015
State Capitol, House Committee Room 5
900 N. 3rd Street
Baton Rouge, LA
The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) tabled a vote at their last board meeting after several authority members and representatives from national and local environmental groups objected to the proposal. The vote will be on the agenda at the next CPRA Board Meeting on October 21st in Baton Rouge.
The money the Governor seeks would be redirected from any surplus left after completion of more than $700 million in coastal restoration and other work funded by the federal RESTORE Act, according to the resolution the authority considered during its September meeting in Morgan City.
Under the RESTORE Act, a portion of the Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 oil spill will go to Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states. The RESTORE Act specifically addresses Clean Water Act violations and harm done to the environment. There has been a unified voice until now that Louisiana would spend those dollars to restore our habitat, our natural resources.
Civil penalties for economic damages are coming for other damages to the state and coastal parishes as a result of the oil spill. These funds would be more properly used for infrastructure projects.
The message we need to send to the nation and future generations is that our coastal communities, economy, fisheries and wildlife will be protected and restored with the highest level of commitment now — and through our best efforts going forward. We need to show that Louisiana is ready and able to properly spend money from the penalties and fines for the oil spill. A short-sighted approach could jeopardize federal funding for future restoration projects.