As a resident of the Terrebonne Estuary System, wetland advocate, writer, speaker, and eco-tour guide, I was very encouraged to hear what the governor of my fair state had to say today about coastal restoration. If you are from Louisiana, and especially if you are not, I would like you to read his comments.
The reason I beg you to read this, especially if you are from another state, is because the losses we have suffered and continue to suffer here are a national problem, not just a state problem. And why is that?
It’s because of the things and services we provide to the nation: energy in the form of domestic oil and gas, and the pipelines through which both foreign and domestic oil travel; because we provide about 30% of the nation’s seafood; it’s because we have five shipping ports here, the major one located in New Orleans.
The wetlands of coastal Louisiana support a way of life and culture–things you read about here on this blog. This bayou on which I live is inhabited mainly by fishermen of one type or another–shrimp, oysters, crabs, garfish, crawfish, and more. The people here have a unique way of life–unique to here. They have their own music, language, dancing, and food.
An end of a culture and way of life is no small thing. It would not be a simple matter to relocate the people of the wetland, because they cannot do what they do just anywhere. They would have to be relocated, re-educated, and some even educated–taught new skills–and supporting them would put a burden on the government coffers while these people get reestablished.
My home is four feet off the ground, and there is so little marsh left between my home and the Gulf of Mexico, that a storm that made landfall 180 miles west of my home pushed saltwater up into my house. This has never happened before. In he past there has been ample marshland to absorb previous tidal surges up to ten feet. But now, my home will flood for any surge over 7 feet. That, my friends, is a harsh reality–one I talk about in every presentation I do.
So, if your federal lawmakers are asked to make a decision to spend federal dollars to help restore our coastline, then please use your democratic powers to persuade them to vote in favor of helping us. Because if you don’t, being a bayou woman will only be a memory in less than ten years.
Gov. Jindal, during his news conference today, talking about coastal restoration:
We know that we could easily get to the point of no return. I don’t mean to
play favorites. I appreciate everybody in the media and y’all’s coverage. I
do want to point out that the Times-Picayune did an in-depth series –
several other media outlets have as well – but the Times-Picayune did an
in-depth series several months ago that I think did a very good job
documenting the fact that we have to act immediately.
So one of the reasons we put such substantial amounts of money in the second
special session towards coastal restoration is we didn’t want to wait for
Congress to fund all these projects that had been authorized by WRDA. We
realized that if we waited for the normal Congressional appropriations
process, that it may be too late for some of those projects in some of those
That’s why we’re arguing so urgently and strenuously for the administration
and Congress to act now on the 2010 cost sharing. Some may argue why are you
arguing so forcefully now. Here we are in 2008. We’re going to have a brand
new Congress in January and a new administration in January. The reason
we’re pushing so hard now is we want to put that full $500 million to work
We don’t need thousands of additional studies.
We cannot afford to wait.
The Times-Picayune in their comprehensive study said approximately 10 years,
there was a point of no return in the next 10 years, and I think that may
well be a little generous. I certainly think that over the next few years we
in the state have to make generational decisions about the areas we want to
restore, about the areas we want to protect.
Let us use the money to protect our own state.