Landrieu Wins Passage of Key Coastal Protection, Oil Spill Relief Provisions

May 29, 2010

Senator’s amendments included in Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., tonight won passage of key provisions that will help protect Louisiana’s vulnerable coastline and limit further environmental damage caused by the Gulf Coast oil spill. Sen. Landrieu’s amendments will expedite the delivery of Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) funds that are already appropriated for Louisiana, but are being held up by bureaucratic red tape at the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and provide the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to use of dredge material to bolster barrier islands that serve as a first line of defense against this oil spill and natural disasters.

These provisions were included in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 67-28.

“Louisiana’s weakened marshes and fragile wetlands are far more susceptible to the impacts of this oil spill than they should be,” Sen. Landrieu said. “If we do not make dramatic progress in the restoration of our coast, Louisiana’s coastal parishes will only grow more vulnerable to both natural and manmade disasters. The funding we secured tonight will allow the State to make some limited but rapid progress in restoring the coast, and will help to protect our Gulf Coast communities whose way if life is being threatened by this oil disaster. By cutting through red tape to kick start crucial coastal restoration projects, we can begin to bolster our shoreline that is in further jeopardy because of this oil spill.

“As the House and Senate work out differences in the bill in conference, I will continue to push emergency funding for coastal restoration projects, relief for small businesses, and grants for fishermen and others negatively affected by this oil spill. We need to keep BP on the hook to repay every penny of the clean-up and lost income. But in order to restore our wetlands we need a long-term commitment from the federal government.”

CIAP funds are dedicated to projects that restore coastal wetlands and marine and coastal ecosystems; mitigate damages to fish and wildlife; and aid other coastal conservation and mitigation efforts. The four-year program, created by Sen. Landrieu in 2005 Energy Policy Act, was designed to disburse all funds to states by 2010. However, only about 25 percent of the $1 billion in funds have been distributed to Gulf States. This amendment would give the Louisiana the ability to amend its plan and put forward new projects specifically to address the oil spill.

Sen. Landrieu’s dredging language would provide the Corps with the authority and funding for the beneficial use of dredge material to shore up barrier islands, vulnerable wetlands, and shorelines through the Gulf Coast area affected by the oil spill. This material would be a critical resource for the Corps and the State of Louisiana as sand barrier plans are implemented in the comings days and weeks.

The bill also contains $68 million to help communities affected by the oil leak, including economic recovery assistance, seafood inspection and environmental impact mitigation.

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