CRCL Legislative Agenda Successful
CRCL’s mission is to drive bold, science-based action to rebuild our coast through outreach, restoration and advocacy. CRCL has been working with state, regional and local elected officials for three decades. The 2017 Legislative Session, which ended June 10, was another opportunity for CRCL to work with legislators from both parties to help advance the cause of coastal restoration and flood risk reduction. Before the session began in April, CRCL sent every legislator our Legislative Platform and Policy Objectives for the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.
For the most part, the legislative session was a success for coastal Louisiana.
Our focus was the passage of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. This is the third iteration of the master plan, which is the state’s blueprint for coastal restoration and flood risk reduction. Our goal, along with other partner groups, was to help the legislators understand the importance of the master plan to rebuilding our coast and protecting our communities. After several hearings in both houses, plan passed with overwhelming support.
“This nearly unanimous vote is yet another indication that saving coastal Louisiana from our ongoing land loss crisis isn’t a partisan issue,” said CRCL Executive Director, Kimberly Reyher. “We applaud our lawmakers for having the foresight to move forward with the plan because it serves as the blueprint for ensuring that our culture, industry, economy and way of life can flourish now and in the future.
“But just having a plan isn't enough. Now we must implement it. Otherwise, Louisiana will continue to wash into the Gulf forcing communities to retreat and livelihoods to be lost.”
The cornerstone of the master plan is sediment diversions that harness the power of the Mississippi River to rebuild land by constructing diversions to release water and sediment into our disappearing wetlands. CRCL has been calling for sediment diversions since 1989 when we released our report “Here today and Gone Tomorrow?” Louisiana is now within years of constructing the first such project, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, which may very well be the most important environmental construction project in the history of our country. The next big push will be to move the diversion project through the federal permitting process as quickly as possible so that the state can meet its goal of breaking ground by 2020.
The other big focus for CRCL was to ensure that funding for coastal restoration was protected from legislative budget cuts. This was extremely important in light of the enormous budget deficit facing the state. Fortunately, our coastal land loss crisis took precedence over raiding coastal funds to fill budget shortfalls. We can’t let our guard down. Protecting our coastal funds remains a top priority for CRCL.