“…It’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats.
And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.
I make that commitment tonight.
Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy, who’s also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast restoration plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region…”
Develop a plan…every time I hear a leader of any sort, but especially a governor or a president talk about developing a plan, appointing a commission, developing a study, a shudder works through my system. Time and time again, we have been privy to some agency or group of people developing plans on how to fix a problem. While it is an understandable first step, typically the problem is nobody moves on to step two, or if they do, before that step can even set foot on solid ground, an axe arcs down and neatly slices the foot in half, rendering the plan that took forever to take shape meaningless.
And here we are again…
Today in the Times Picayune, America’s Wetland Foundation published an ad in cooperation with the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society and Ducks Unlimited, urging Ray Mabus to not just slap yet another band-aid on the Mississippi River Delta and actually do something meaningful to restore the coastal wetlands.
The ad calls for:
- Accelerating the payment of a greater share of federal revenue from Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leases to Louisiana and other Gulf states. The existing revenue-sharing law would provide about $200 million a year to Louisiana in 2017.
- Arranging immediate financing for new freshwater and sediment diversion and barrier island reconstruction projects already authorized by Congress.
- Establishing a dedicated long-term funding stream sufficient for Louisiana’s long-term coastal restoration plan.
- Ensuring a significant percentage of penalty payments resulting from the BP oil spill are dedicated to coastal restoration “as reparations for the contamination of thousands of acres of coastal marsh that cannot be cleaned up.”
- Cutting red tape to speed payment of existing federal appropriations for restoration projects, including more than $1 billion owed coastal states under the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program.
- Creating a federal-state authority to oversee coastal restoration efforts that has the ability to act quickly enough to stave off further wetlands loss.
It would seem time to finally do something about this problem, not just study it…and Mr. Mabus? Mr. Obama? Please keep Congress’s hands off this plan or any other you guys come up with, but if that’s impossible, aim really, really high with your coastal plan’s end result so when the axe does come down, you still have what you need to finally start restoring the wetlands instead of one more signing ceremony in the rose garden that accomplishes nothing.
Just because Americans have grown used to empty words from politicians, doesn’t mean we like them.
Read the article…
Have a nice day.