Louisiana economy depends on master plan to restore coast: Letter

Louisiana has a working coast. This is why I testified this month in front of the U.S. Senate in support of affordable flood insurance — not only do we need to keep our coastal residents in their homes, but we also need to ensure that our vital energy, agriculture and defense industries continue to serve America.

This is also why GNO Inc. supports the state’s coastal master plan.

The first of its kind in the nation, the master plan was developed by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority in 2007. The 50-year, $50 billion strategy was written by hydrology experts, with the goal of ensuring that our coast remains viable for generations to come. The coastal master plan is a good example of where Louisiana is leading the country for the right reasons.

From an economic development perspective, the coastal master plan provides existing and incoming businesses assurance that our state is being proactive in addressing our environmental challenges.

Even more importantly, the plan is actually creating a new industry sector – water management. Going forward, water management will be one of our largest employers, along with energy and health care. Through the implementation of projects in the coastal master plan, the water sector is expected to grow by 22 percent by 2026, providing nearly 36,000 high-paying jobs for the region and positioning Southeast Louisiana as an international hub of water management expertise.

Finally, the coastal master plan ties back to flood insurance, because the best insurance is actually a healthy coast. While we continue to fight the policy battle to ensure that NFIP rates remain reasonable, implementation of the coastal master plan provides a real-time defense against both natural and policy hazards — mitigating our environmental risk while proving that Louisiana is being proactive in our own defense.

Yet none of these promises of economic protection, job growth or community affordability will come to fruition if the coastal master plan isn’t approved and dedicated coastal funds aren’t protected in this legislative session. There is widespread support of the plan, and it has passed near unanimously in the past. On behalf of the greater New Orleans business community, we encourage readers to learn more about the coastal master plan, and to reach out to their elected officials to express support: our working coast, and thus our economy, depends on it.

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