BGR Urges Landry to Keep State’s Standalone Coastal Protection Agency

NEW ORLEANS — The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit government watchdog group, is urging Gov. Jeff Landry to keep Louisiana’s separate coastal protection agency.

The newly elected governor said he’s considering merging the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority — and potentially other state entities —  into the Department of Energy and Natural Resources to reduce red tape for oil and gas companies operating in the state.

The CPRA was formed in 2006 as the state focused on coastal protection as an existential issue.

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BGR submitted a letter on Feb. 20 in response to the governor’s request for public comment on the proposal. In it, the nonprofit argues that CPRA’s work is distinct from the Engergy Department’s mission and it provides public transparency and accountability. The CPRA and its board also can help make the case for future federal funding for the coast, said BGR.

“The CPRA raised the profile of coastal protection as a vital issue for Louisiana,” writes BGR. “It brought together functions of multiple state departments to centralize accountability. And it became responsible for coastal policy and comprehensive planning to use the public’s resources effectively. Creating the CPRA was a pivotal move for Louisiana to secure federal government funding to rebuild from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Nearly two decades later, residents and businesses can see the benefits of having a stand-alone agency dedicated solely to restoring and protecting the coast. They enjoy much better protection from hurricane storm surge than ever before. Two years ago, the CPRA assumed control of the $15 billion hurricane protection system for southeast Louisiana from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The CPRA has taken on the critical responsibility to operate and maintain the system in coordination with local governments and levee authorities. The CPRA has also advanced a wide range of projects to rebuild natural wetlands to buffer future storm surges.”

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