Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined Senator Mary Landrieu and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus -- who has been charged by President Obama with developing a long-term recovery plan for the Gulf Coast -- for a flyover of coastal Louisiana to view firsthand the oil impact as well as the continued erosion problem across the coastline. Governor Jindal stressed two messages to Secretary Mabus -- first, Louisiana's coastline cannot afford years of more studies, it's time for quick action and second, the timeline for revenue sharing must be expedited.
Governor Jindal said, "I want to thank Secretary Mabus for coming here to Louisiana again and especially for taking time today to see our coastal restoration needs firsthand. As you all know, the oil that is now invading our marshes and hurting our wetlands is also threatening the progress we had been making in turning back the hand on decades of coastal erosion in Louisiana.
"We stressed two messages to Secretary Mabus as he works to develop a long-term recovery plan. First, Louisiana can't afford years of more studies. We're asking to no longer be drowned in red tape and more studies. Our coast doesn't have that kind of time. In fact, our best scientists say we only have ten years or less to save our coast.
"We talked to Secretary Mabus about the years and years of studies and he noted that much of the legwork on coastal restoration project research has already been done. We simply cannot delay action to restore our coast with further studies, but instead we must move quickly to implement for example, the estimated $9 billion in projects that have been authorized by Congress for construction. Many of these projects currently remained delayed well beyond the deadlines required in federal law. We believe that Secretary Mabus can help us accelerate these projects through the federal process so we can turn dirt quickly to save our coast.
"Second, we told Secretary Mabus that a critical part of Louisiana's long-term recovery is speeding up the timeline for sharing oil royalties. Senator Landrieu and our Congressional delegation have been working on legislation to expedite the sharing of energy revenues rather than delaying it and we strongly support these efforts. This is important because the President's moratorium on deepwater energy production will not just hurt jobs in Louisiana; it also delays energy revenue sharing that is due to the state under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. Our Constitution requires that every penny of these revenues be dedicated to projects to restore our coast, provide hurricane protection and address other impacts from energy production. These funds will be put to good use and this will be another key element in restoring our coast."
Governor Jindal added, "We also told Secretary Mabus about our state's own commitment to coastal restoration work. Since taking office in 2008, we have committed around $660 million in state funds to coastal restoration and hurricane flood protection efforts. We are joining with our Congressional delegation to ask for a federal commitment to match the strength of our state commitment on many restoration projects. We appreciate the Secretary's commitment to saying we need to get this done in months and not years. We know we simply do not have the 40-plus years that it currently takes to complete projects through the Army Corps of Engineers -- especially now that this oil spill has caused damage to our interior wetlands.
"Our state has already lost 2,300 square miles of coastal lands since the 1930s. This is like losing the entire state of Rhode Island or Delaware. We have been working aggressively to reverse this trend of coastal land and wetlands loss. We have already clearly seen in this disaster that this oil has the potential to stop and reverse the progress we have made. Our state was on track to have the lowest rate of land loss in 80 years as a result of our efforts and investments in our coast. Our shrimpers were rebounding, our oyster fishermen were recovering and our coastal communities were rebuilding. That is why this spill fundamentally threatens Louisiana's way of life."
For the flyover, the Governor was also joined by U.S. Department of Interior Deputy Secretary Tom Strickland, Congressman Charles Boustany and Congressman Joseph Cao.