BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In the next four years, workers will break ground on coastal restoration projects that should produce more land than Louisiana loses to erosion for the first time since the 1930s, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) says.
It’s a milestone that would not have arrived as quickly without the $7.25 billion BP oil spill settlement, which came years after Deepwater Horizon explosion that happened ten years ago Monday, April 20. The money jump-started projects the state had planned, but could not yet pay for.
It took workers 87 days to cap the well, which ultimately spewed three million gallons of crude oil into the gulf. The oil smothered Louisiana’s wildlife and stifled the state’s coastal economy.
“It was an unprecedented disaster that ultimately resulted in an incredible opportunity for south Louisiana,” CPRA chairman Chip Kline said in an interview with WAFB. “This funding gives us the opportunity to actually implement these projects that are game changers.”
So far, the state has completed nine key oil spill projects and nine more are under construction, Kline says. Engineers are planning and designing a handful of other projects as well.
“The BP oil spill was really our ‘a-ha! moment,’” Kline said. “It made us realize just how fragile our coast is. It exacerbated some of the issues we’re facing across our coast, but it also made us realize why we fight so hard to restore and protect it.”
In the last 90 years, Louisiana has lost 2,000 square miles of land. Without action, another 4,000 square miles would vanish over the next 50 years.
Coastal restoration and protection work employs 10,500 people each year, CPRA says.
“Whatever we’re faced with, whether a natural disaster, environmental disaster, hurricanes or floods, we do what it takes to survive,” Kline said. “We keep going.”
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