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article imageLouisiana's disappearing coastline under 'state of emergency'

By Karen Graham     Apr 21, 2017 in Environment
Baton Rouge - On Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an emergency proclamation declaring the Louisiana Coast in a state of crisis and emergency. The emergency proclamation was sent to President Trump and members of Congress.
By bringing nationwide attention to the loss of the state's coastline, it is hoped that this will expedite a host of restoration projects mired down by federal permitting. "The Louisiana coast is in a state of crisis that demands immediate and urgent action to avert further damage to one of our most vital resources," Edwards said, according to NPR.org.
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There is great concern over President Trump's proposed budget cuts, a federal hiring freeze, and other spending cuts. Louisiana's disaster-prone coastal region would be further impacted. If Trump would declare coastal erosion a national emergency, he could put pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to speed up permitting for sediment diversion projects and other initiatives outlined in Louisiana's $50 billion, 50-year coastal master plan.
Subsidence in Jefferson Parish  Louisiana  from June 2009 to July 2012  as seen by NASA s UAVSAR ins...
Subsidence in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, from June 2009 to July 2012, as seen by NASA's UAVSAR instrument. The measured displacements are a combination of movement of the ground and of individual structures.
NASA/JPL-Caltech, Esri
A 2017 update to that plan was unanimously approved on Wednesday by the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. And while it is well-known that global warming is partly responsible for the loss of Louisiana's coast-land, the governor is asking Congress to exclude coastal restoration projects from the federal environmental law, reports the Times-Picayune.
"The swamps and marshes of coastal Louisiana are among the Nation's most fragile and valuable wetlands, vital not only to recreational and agricultural interests but also the State's more than $1 billion per year seafood industry. The staggering annual losses of wetlands in Louisiana are caused by human activity as well as natural processes," says S. Jeffress Williams, with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Deep in the bayous of Louisiana  time seems to move more slowly  but not moving slowly enough to sav...
Deep in the bayous of Louisiana, time seems to move more slowly, but not moving slowly enough to save a community of Native Americans living on a strip of an island that is being swallowed by the sea
Lee Celano, AFP
More than half the state's population live along the coast, the declaration reads. And the rate of erosion is increasing, "more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone," have disappeared.
The governor adds that if nothing is done, "2,250 square miles of coastal Louisiana is expected to be lost" within the next 50 years. "Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence, and rising sea levels have made the Louisiana coast the nation's most rapidly deteriorating shoreline," WWNO's Travis Lux told NPR.org. "It loses the equivalent of one football field of land every hour."
The emergency declaration was requested by coastal authority Chairman Johnny Bradberry. "This clearly highlights the support and recognition that Gov. Edwards has about the criticality of the state of our coast, and further demonstrates that he is clearly is a coastal governor," Bradberry said.
More about louisiana coastline, Global warming, state of emergency, restoration projects, half the population
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