Monday, July 11th Gov Bobby Jindal, along with other local and state officials, revealed his plans for restoring Louisiana’s coastal areas, fisheries, and oyster seed grounds from the destructive effects of the BP oil spill. He says that the state will seek approval for more than a half billion dollars in restoration projects to repair coastal areas and fisheries affected by last year’s oil disaster. BP has already agreed to spend $1 billion in April of this year, a pact with the federal government and the five Gulf States. Through the $1 billion agreement from BP, the five Gulf states get $100 million each and the federal government will get $200 million. The remaining $300 million with be divvied out to projects deemed the most urgent, here, Louisiana hopes to get the majority of that $300 million, and to see a share of the $200 million federal portion spent on projects here on our own shores. Of the $1 billion, Jindal’s “Louisiana Plan” details projects that will restore wetlands, improve barrier islands and eroded shorelines, build ridges, breakwaters and land bridges to protect existing shorelines. “We expect to receive a fair share, a disproportional share, of those dollars, based on the amount of damage that happened to our coast,” Jindal said. He continued, citing a number of reports and federal statistics on which the coast of Louisiana received 92 percent of the heavily and moderately oiled shoreline, and than most of the birds, mammals, fish and other wildlife were also heavily affected. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell noted that not only Louisiana will be requesting shares of the money, other states represented on the council of trustees will be making cases justifying their regions own need. “Every state has a seat at the table,” Caldwell said, additionally stating that the Jindal administration has put together a thorough list of proposed projects that Jefferson Parish President John Young calls “shovel ready.” Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves, will present Jindal’s projects next week to a committee of trustees representing the Gulf states and other federal agencies, where it must be approved and subsequently approved by BP.
Among the states affected by the oil spill, Louisiana developed their plan of more than 350 proposals from the public, parishes and state agencies, while other states are still holding hearings to request projects to submit for the funding. Jindal focuses on the Louisiana oyster industry, requesting $15 million from BP to rebuild the state’s once thriving oyster industry. In a recent report, BP claims that the Louisiana oyster industry was not affected by the oil but by the freshwater diversions along the Mississippi River. Understanding this, Jindal’s projects counters BP’s report by providing information where the freshwater diversions were an effort to keep oil out of fragile wetland habitats, and therefore a subsequent result of the oil spill.
The governor’s plans include a $12 million oyster project to position clutch materials on 855 acres of public oyster grounds in parts of Mississippi Sound, Lakes Fortuna, Lake Machias, Hackberry Bay, Lake Chien, Sister Lake, and Calcasieu Lake, with $3 million improving oyster hatcheries at Grand Isle. Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes would receive more than $146 million directed at improving and restoring their fisheries and coastal areas. In Lafourche, the state has already set aside $77 million of the $220 million needed for the Caminada headland project, which will re-establish 2,066 acres of beach, 7-foot-high sand dunes and marshes between Belle Pass and Caminada Pass on Fourchon and Elmer’s Island. In response to Jindal’s plan, Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet expressed his support saying, “We were one of the most impacted parishes, and I think we got our fair share.”