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Story Archives: Coastal restoration in new hands
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|Coastal restoration in new hands|
Louisiana's eroding coastline is a critical environmental issue for the entire country, and restoring our decimated coastal wetlands must become a national priority.
The Obama administration's decision to create an inter-agency working group on coastal restoration planning in Louisiana and Mississippi is a welcome step in that direction. Even better, the White House has indicated that an agency other than the Army Corps of Engineers will lead those efforts.
Historically, the corps' focus hasn't been on coastal restoration but on navigation and flood protection. Some corps projects, notably the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, have even caused devastating wetlands loss. The Obama administration plans to put either the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the White House Council on Environmental Quality in charge, and that's a smart move.
It's also drawn positive reaction from Garret Graves, chairman of the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. "We believe that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proven that they're incapable of leading the effort to restore coastal Louisiana," he said.
There's not much time left to make a meaningful effort to save our coast, and that makes it all the more important to put the right team together and give it the power and the resources to be effective.
Clearly the corps still will play a major role in coastal restoration, even though it won't be taking the lead on this group. Barrier islands and healthy coastal wetlands are an essential part of the multiple line of defense approach to storm protection that also includes levees and floodwalls.
Mr. Graves stressed the need for the interagency group to be empowered to take action, and that is critical. "We've studied and we've talked about the restoration of coastal Louisiana for decades," he said. "It's time for action."
He's right, and the Obama administration must do more than just create a group -- the president must push to get vital coastal restoration work funded and completed.
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