Restoring the Gulf Coast

Fifty years and $50 billion to rebuild Louisiana’s coast: That’s the price tag in a long-term plan just released by the state of Louisiana for restoring the state’s eroding marshes and protecting low-lying areas – including New Orleans – from storm surges. (See graphic and story.) State officials call the issue an emergency and say they can carry out the plan by combining a share of legal penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill with federal appropriations and revenues from offshore oil drilling. Even if every step in the plan is carried out, it won’t stop coastal erosion, but it will slow the process significantly. By 2042, the plan forecasts, Louisiana would finally start gaining land every year instead of losing it to the ocean. For background, see my CQ Researcher report, “Gulf Coast Restoration,” Aug. 26, 2011.

--Jennifer Weeks, Contributing Writer