Saturday, May 25, 2024

Louisiana’s coast is sinking. Advocates say [Republican] governor is undermining efforts to save it. (WaPo)

"Regulatory capture" is alive and flourishing under Big Oils Dull Republican rule in Louisiana, Florida and Texas, under under feculent fetid one-party rule.  Here in Flori-DUH, we're eliminating climate change as a priority. Sick Dull Republican twists don't give a fig about our people.  Fun fact: Louisiana is the only coastal state in America without a National Estuarine Research Reserve.  Florida has several.  But Louisiana has none, because of the Big Oil domination of the corrupt state since the death of Governor and Senator Huey Pierce Long, a scourge of wicked corporations that long profiteered off "development" of oil and natural gas, causing our global climate change crisis.  From The Washington Post:

Louisiana’s coast is sinking. Advocates say the governor is undermining efforts to save it.

A new Republican governor is taking aim at the state’s coastal protection agency. 

May 25, 2024 at 6:30 a.m. EDT
Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost over 2,000 square miles of land, an area roughly the size of Delaware. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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For the past decade, Louisiana’s program for coastal protection has been hailed as one of the best in the country, after the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed the state to shore up coastlines, repair levees and protect natural habitats.

But now, environmental advocates and experts say the state’s new Republican governor is undermining its coastal protection agency — the state’s first and strongest line of defense against climate change-induced sea level rise. In an open letter published this week and signed by more than 200 business leaders, environmental advocates and other experts, various groups warned against Gov. Jeff Landry’s plans to transform the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

“The very future of our state is at stake,” the letter read.

Environmentalists say that the new governor’s actions could hobble the agency just as its work is most needed. The moves come as other right-leaning states are also cutting back on climate goals and even references to climate change. This month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill erasing most mentions of climate change from state law. DeSantis is also poised to nullify the state’s targets for 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Since 2005, when Louisiana was devastated by two hurricanes, the coastal restoration agency has built or revamped over 300 miles of levees that hold back floodwaters, and restored dozens of miles of barrier islands that can absorb the pressure of waves and rising seas. The agency works to shore up these defenses in the face of future, stronger storms and higher seas.

Its work is critical, experts say: Louisiana is losing coastline at a dramatic rate. In the past century, the state has lost over 2,000 square miles of land; it could lose 2,000 more in the next 50 years, scientists predict. As sea level rise has accelerated, so has the loss of land. Wetlands are “drowning” in many areas of the state — covered by sea level rise faster than they can grow. In the coming decades, scientists say, the state could lose up to 75 percent of its natural buffer against hurricanes and storms.

A science-based agency under threat

Landry, who took office in January, has removed six members of the coastal restoration agency’s board and suggested subsuming it into another, larger department. In a memo, the governor said that such moves could help avoid government operations existing in “distinct silos” and improve efficiency.

Environmental groups, on the other hand, say the shake-ups are undermining the work of an agency that is vitally important. The leadership and structural change could distract the agency from its plan for the coastline, slow down essential projects that can prevent flooding and allow politics to creep into the work of the science-based agency, experts and environmentalists say.

“It just seems like it’s chaotic at a time when we do not need that kind of chaos,” said Rebecca Triche, executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and one of the signatories on the letter.

Triche said that some of the experts taken off the board could have helped provide needed perspectives on the state’s coastal plans. The board is made up of some political appointees and some publicly elected government officials. “It just appears that independent voices are being removed,” she said.

andry’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Diverting the Mississippi

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) in Washington in March. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Environmentalists are also concerned about the new governor’s position on a project to divert part of the Mississippi River, which scientists say is critical to restore coastal wetlands. The region, known as middle Barataria, is sinking faster than 75 percent of all other wetlands in the state. The project would help bring new sediment to the area and, ideally, prevent further land loss.

The project, organized by the coastal restoration agency, has been in the works for over a decade. It is facing a lawsuit from Plaquemines Parish, where locals worry that the incoming freshwater could impact fishing. Experts say the state appears to no longer be actively fighting the lawsuit — and as a result, has put the project on hold.

“For the last three administrations, they really haven’t played politics” with the coastal restoration agency, said Christopher Dalbom, a senior research fellow at Tulane University. “They’ve tried really hard to maintain it as a science-based effort.” But the lack of progress on the project, he added, seems to tell a new story. “It seems as if now there’s politics being played with it.”

In a state Senate hearing earlier this month, the agency said that if the project is halted, almost $1 billion could go to waste.

Many experts worry about undermining an agency that has become a hallmark of the state’s battle against climate change and rising seas.

“Compared to other states we have one of the best, deepest coastal restoration authorities in the country,” said Dalbom. “There’s a real strength there that’s not to be blithely frittered away.”

Shannon Osaka is a climate reporter covering policy, culture, and science for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post, she was a climate reporter at the nonprofit environmental outlet Grist. Twitter

1 comment:

Beth said...

Also trying to criminalize abortion pills. I'd go out on a limb and say that there's more people who don't need to reproduce than do. Have Republicans lost their minds? What good does hundreds of thousands of unwanted kids do anyone? Do they think the religious wackos will adopt ten kids a piece? News Flash: They won't.. and that's where the irrational ideology behind those policies come from.