WRKF

Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, WWNO has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

Those calliope-playing Mississippi riverboats will soon be carrying more than passengers. Scientists are preparing to attach monitors to some boats in an effort to gather more data on the river's water quality.

After big floods like those in 2016 that inundated many homes in the Baton Rouge-area and beyond, sometimes a home buyout is the right choice. People whose homes have flooded multiple times can get money from the federal government to relocate to safer ground. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group finds that those buyouts can take a long time.

Chinese company Wanhua recently informed St. James Parish officials that it was withdrawing its application to build a chemical plant in the parish. The plant had faced vocal opposition and legal action from some residents and environmental groups, but the trade war with China may also have played a part in the company’s decision.

The Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is loaded with industry. Refinery stacks and storage tanks stand tall on the horizon, their contiguous line interrupted by sugarcane fields, ornate plantations, and quiet neighborhoods.

As the climate warms, cities are thinking about how to mitigate urban temperature increases. But cities in wet climates like South Louisiana may have a tougher time cooling off than those in drier climates, according to a new study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

The Mississippi River plays a critical role in Louisiana’s plan to combat coastal land loss. The state wants to divert part of its flow into the dying marshes as a way of building back some of the land.

But, a recent study by LSU researcher Gene Turner says the benefits of using the river might not outweigh the drawbacks. WWNO’s Travis Lux spoke with Turner about the study, and the response from the state.

As rainfall increases and storms intensify, local officials across Louisiana are looking for ways to protect their citizens. They’re putting up levees and floodwalls and trying to manage all of the water. But floodwater doesn’t follow parish lines, so state officials are working on a solution.

As Hurricane Barry headed for the coast in July, Sharonda Kotton and her family were on edge. They live near Bayou Manchac in Iberville Parish, a densely-wooded rural area just south of Baton Rouge. It floods often.

Rainstorms seem to be getting more intense. In New Orleans, every time it rains, people worry about flooding. A new study from LSU finds that storms in Louisiana are getting bigger and wetter, dropping more rain over a shorter period of time.

WWNO’s Tegan Wendland talked with state climatologist Barry Keim and LSU research associate, Vinny Brown, who looked at climate data going back to the 1960’s.

Even though Barry didn’t turn out to be as bad as many people feared, it still caused damage in several Louisiana parishes. Now, the state of Louisiana is asking the federal government to help pay for the costs of preparing for the storm and post-storm cleanup.

A strong majority of Louisiana voters believe in climate change, according to a new poll sponsored by several environmental groups.

About 1,000 “chronic voters” in Louisiana were surveyed by phone for the poll, which was conducted by political consulting firm BDPC LLC + Pinsonat for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition.

The Trump administration is making major changes to the Endangered Species Act, which could affect some plants and animals in Louisiana.

The act, passed in the 1970’s, protects endangered plants and animals. At that time, the “pelican state” almost lost its state bird. The brown pelican was on the brink of extinction. Then, officials went to Florida and brought back juvenile pelicans to reestablish them in Louisiana. In 2009 they were officially taken off the list of endangered species.

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