Ocean Policy Task Force report includes coastal restoration strategies
On September 10, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued its Interim Report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force in response to a directive from President Obama in June 2009. The report outlines a national policy that ensures:
- the protection, maintenance, and restoration of the health of the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources;
- a framework for policy coordination of efforts to improve stewardship of those resources; and
- an implementation strategy that will enable the United States to meet the policy’s standards.
Included in the report are several key elements for the health of Louisiana’s delta ecosystem, such as:
- a declaration that it is the policy of the United States to protect, maintain and restore coastal ecosystems;
- to improve resiliency of coastal communities; and
- to use the best available science to inform decisions affecting our coasts.
Two key components of the implementation strategy for Louisiana are its “special emphasis” on strengthening coastal communities’ resilience to climate change and establishing integrated ecosystem restoration for coastal regions, specifically referring to the Gulf Coast.
Citizens and organizations are invited to comment on the CEQ's Task Force and its interim report at a public meeting on October 19. CEQ is also accepting wri
CEQ is accepting public comments on the Task Force and its Interim Report until October 10. The agency is also holding a public meeting in New Orleans on October 19, where citizens are invited to submit written and verbal comments.
holding a public meeting in New Orleans on October 19, 2009, and citizens and organizations will be invited to comment on the Task Force and its Interim Report. Both the written comment period and public meeting are critical opportunities to draw the Task Force’s attention to the deltaic ecosystem collapse in coastal Louisiana and the urgent need to integrate all federal and state actions with a common goal of reversing the collapse and restoring the ecosystem’s resiliency.
Louisianans take urgent message to nation's capitol: Begin coastal restoration now
Last week, Louisianans delivered an urgent message to Congress and federal agencies in Washington, DC: they need to fund coastal restoration efforts. On September 22 and 23, several conservation and business interests met with agency officials and held a congressional briefing on the need for immediate coastal restoration. Discussions focused on the national interests at stake because of the disappearing Louisiana coast, as well as solutions to start rebuilding the coast.
Highlights of the congressional briefing included remarks by Louisiana’s senior U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Louisiana’s U.S. Representative Joseph Cao. An all-star panel of experts included America’s WETLAND Foundation Chairman King Milling, Environmental Defense Fund’s General Counsel Jim Tripp, University of New Orleans’ Dr. Denise Reed, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Executive Director Steven Peyronnin, and the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development’s Co-director Pam Dashiell.
The meetings and congressional briefing were sponsored by a diverse group of conservation and business interests, including America’s WETLAND Foundation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Coast Builders Coalition, Ducks Unlimited, Environmental Defense Fund, Gulf Restoration Network, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and The Nature Conservancy.
Article: Human activity is sinking deltas around the world
Most of the world’s deltas are sinking at an accelerated rate - largely as a result of human activity - placing tens of millions of people at increased risk to storm flooding, land loss, and loss of infrastructure. Each of these deltas suffers from similar problems, including rising sea levels, upstream reservoirs trapping needed river sediments, and increased soil subsidence related to the extraction of oil, gas and water.
Nature Geoscience recently published an article, "Sinking deltas due to human activities," that concludes 85 percent of the world’s deltas have experienced severe flooding over the past decade, and that this vulnerability to flooding could increase by 50 percent under the projected sea-level rise estimates for the next century.
The article specifically examines 33 deltas worldwide and assesses the severe floods each delta has faced in the past 10 years. The authors also rank the world’s deltas in five categories, according to risk. In the most vulnerable category are 11 deltas, including the Yangtze and Yellow Deltas in China, and Egypt’s Nile Delta. The Mississippi River Delta is among the seven deltas in the second highest risk category, along with the Ganges in Bangladesh, the Mekong in Vietnam, and the Tigris in Iraq.
Conservationists welcome new Army of Civil Works Assistant Secretary
President Obama confirmed the new Assistant Secretary of the Army of Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, on August 11. She will provide supervision to all aspects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Civil Works program, such as programs for conservation and development of the nation's water and wetland resources, including flood control, navigation, and shore protection.
Darcy has a long history of working on conservation issues and has served as a staff member for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Conservation groups look forward to working with her on Louisiana restoration projects, such as the Corps' construction of river diversions.
Appropriations committee meets to decide energy/water bill funding
The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate each approved versions of the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill before the congressional recess in August. The highlight for coastal restoration was that the proposed funding for the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) project increased substantially from Fiscal Year 2009 in both versions of the bill.
Now that the recess is over, the House and Senate have entered into a conference committee to resolve differences between the two versions of the bill. The more quickly the committee moves, the faster funding for LCA project studies can be put to use.
Gulf Coast Civic Works Act addresses variety of coastal concerns
The RFK Memorial Center held a briefing last week in Washington, D.C. for lawmakers on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (HR 2269). The bipartisan bill addresses a variety of Gulf Coast concerns, ranging from mental health issues and affordable housing to storm recovery and wetland restoration.
One major element of the bill is that it is has both federal and local components, giving coastal communities and parish/county-level governments an important role in decision making. Another important aspect of the bill is its emphasis on job training and job creation, particularly in green sectors such as ecosystem restoration and energy efficient homes.
Presenters at the briefing included Louisiana Episcopal Community Services’ Shakoor Alujawani, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing’s David Gauthe, San Jose State University’s Scott Myers-Lipton, and The Beacon of Hope Resource Center's Denise Thornton.
Gulf coast governors call on Interior Secretary to revise outer continental shelf revenue sharing rules
In a September 25th letter, the governors of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to revise a new set of federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas royalty revenue sharing rules. They cited the need to use these revenue sharing funds to “conduct and achieve the planning efforts needed to maximize coastal protection, mitigation to living resources, mitigation of the effects from OCS activities through onshore infrastructure projects, and management of our coastal areas to make them sustainable for future generations.”
The governors asked for the revisions because they felt that the new rules make it hard to estimate what the expected revenue streams will be and improperly limit the kinds of revenues that will be shared. The new rules relate to the Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act of 2006, which provides a stream of revenue sharing from existing offshore energy production, and new offshore energy production most of which starts in 2017.
"Governors Barbour, Jindal, Perry, and Riley should be commended for engaging the Interior Department on the question of how critical coastal sustainability needs will be met," said Paul Harrison, Environmental Defense Fund's Senior Director for Mississippi and the East Coast. "The engagement opens up an opportunity for Secretary Salazar to raise the same issues with the governors in light of Interior Department’s strong role as steward of the nation’s natural health and resiliency."