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Promised Coastal Dollars May Be Reconsidered

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Louisiana’s congressional delegation — most notably former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu — has fought for coastal restoration funding for years. And it’s just about to pay off big.

“In November of 2017, approximately $170-million is to be made available to the state — $140-million of which comes to the CPRA,” explains Kyle Graham, with Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The source of the funds is a federal program known as GOMESA.

“We are currently in the first phase of GOMESA,” Graham elaborates. “We’ve been seeing about $80,000 a year out of that program, so it’s not enough money to build a project.”

However, in his latest budget proposal, President Obama is threatening to take away those offshore oil revenue-sharing provisions.

“That is the revenue stream in which we largely built our program,” Graham says, referring to the state’s Master Plan for rebuilding the coastline.

CPRA Board member Windell Curole says taking away the GOMESA money now would be the height of injustice.

“We have impact with the pipelines coming in, the traffic that goes in — even the trucks that travel on our roads because of that support,” says an outraged Curole. “The federal government is getting $6- to 7-billion a year? We do pay a price to help get that to them.”

Chip Kline, new chairman of the CPRA — who replaced Jerome Zeringue, who replaced Garret Graves, who is now in Congress—says he doubts Congress will backtrack on the revenue sharing promise.

“I can assure you that we’re going to be working very closely with our congressional delegation,” Kline states. “I know that there’s a former chairman of this board who’s probably chomping at the bit up there in D.C., to have this discussion.”