As a result of Louisiana prioritizing its coast, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority now has the resources and funding to work on the state’s hurricane protection and coastal resilience projects, said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline, speaking at Monday’s Press Club luncheon. However, CPRA is still dealing with major political opposition to the projects.
Kline dedicated a large part of his talk to outlining resources and funding for resilience projects in south Louisiana, specifically the sediment diversion project planned for Barataria Bay.
He also touched on the governor’s climate task force, created to address the causes of coastline loss, and whose goal is for the state to be carbon neutral by 2050.
However, when prompted by a question about Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s recent comments opposing the Barataria Bay diversion project because he says it will destroy the fishing industry, Kline went on the defensive.
“When it comes to this issue,” Kline says, “the lieutenant governor could not be more wrong more often. I can work with people who are wrong often, but what frustrates me is the level of absurdity of the statements and claims the lieutenant governor makes.”
In response to Nungesser’s comments, Kline says the state had a successful industry before levees were built, and that the diversion project will impact the shrimping and oyster industries, but not destroy them.
The lieutenant governor also claims that CPRA workers acted outside the public eye to seek regulatory reform associated with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Kline says, but CPRA was able to get a waiver for the diversion from Congress, who said the diversion is consistent with the act.
“I’m not being sarcastic when I say this,” Kline says, “but someone should tell the lieutenant governor how a bill becomes a law.”
Going forward, CPRA will work with industry leaders to get projects up and running, Kline says. Recent actions taken by the governor involving wind generation off the Louisiana coast proves some projects can be good for both the environment and economy in south Louisiana, Kline says.
“We just want to provide a plan that is sustainable,” he says. “I will do everything I can to address the concerns of those being impacted by the diversion. This is the right thing to do for the long-term sustainability of south Louisiana.”