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Latest Coastal Plan Banking On Big Bucks (Finally!)

courtesy: CPRA
East Timbalier Island

"“This is going to be the most money we’ve spent, right?" asked state Senator Norby Chabert of Houma.

"Yes, sir," CPRA executive director Mike Ellis replied, with a smile.

"The most money spent, in the history of this state, on construction," Chabert added, for emphasis.

"You are correct," Ellis confirmed.

Louisiana's been waiting since 2006 for the big bucks of offshore oil revenue sharing from GoMESA to kick in, and now is finally the time. But Deputy Director for Coastal Activities Chip Kline says the payday is less profitable than expected.

"We'll be receiving about $60-70 million, which is significantly less than what was projected," Kline told the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority during their meeting Wednesday.

Yet he also had more hopeful news, based on U.S. Energy Secretary Ryan Zinke's visit to South Louisiana this past weekend.

"The last three years, the President has called on canceling, if you will, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act," Kline said, "And the Secretary had said that he would do everything in his power to insure that that program stays in the President's budget moving forward."

CPRA members also got their first look at the fiscal year 2019 Coastal Plan. Ellis says it stacks GoMESA money on top of BP oil spill settlement funds, allowing for investment in some long-awaited major restoration projects.

"If you look at the revenues projected for FY '19, it's around $649 million, and expected expenditures around $560 million."

Senator Chabert is delighted.

"The constant drumbeat that you hear is, 'stop studying and start building,'" Chabert remarked. "I think it's going to be very beneficial to all policymakers and implementers to be able to talk to the taxpaying citizens of this state and nation, to say that we're building now. We've gotten to that point and we ain't looking back."

Public meetings on the plan are set for Jan. 8 in Belle Chasse; Jan. 9 in Houma; and Jan. 10 in Lake Charles. The draft version of the FY '19 Coastal Plan can be viewed here.