LA Submits Requests For Oil Spill Penalty Money

BATON ROUGE (AP) — State officials are submitting four projects and one program to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and hope at least a few will rise to the top to receive funding from a part of the BP oil spill penalty money.

         As part of the RESTORE Act, the council has control over a part of the funding that will come from penalties and fines resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. About $150 million to $240 million will be available in this first round, and each of the 10 council members, including Louisiana, gets to submit five projects for consideration, said Kyle Graham, director of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

         The four projects Louisiana has submitted are asking for funding to do engineering and design, planning and other preconstruction needs, he said.

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         Those four projects are:

         Golden Triangle Marsh Creation in the marsh area between Lake Borgne and the intersection of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Ultimately, the $50 million project would create 600 acres of new wetlands, restore ailing marsh and help reduce wave erosion in the area. The project is in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. The state is asking the council for $4.35 million.

         Mississippi River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp Project to divert a small portion of the river just upriver from LaPlace into the Maurepas Swamp. The intent of the $186 million project would be to allow 2,000 cubic feet per second of water into the swamp to help bring back fresh water and some sediment to the system. The state estimates the project could help maintain more than 45,000 acres of land in the swamp. The council will get a request for $14 million to help advance the planning for the project.

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         Biloxi Marsh Living Shoreline Project would build oyster reefs along sections of the shoreline to help connect existing oyster reefs in the area. As these shorelines attract oysters, they grow to help protect the marsh shoreline behind them from wave action and erosion. The $57 million project would create 47,000 feet of oyster reefs along the east shore of the Biloxi Marsh. The state is asking the council for $3.2 million.

         West Grand Terre Beach Nourishment and Stabilization Project is a barrier island restoration project to build 12,700 feet of beach and dune as well as more than 60 acres of marsh at the back of the island. The state is asking the council for $7.2 million to help with engineering, design and other preconstruction work. The total project will cost about $65 million.

         The fifth request is for $16.1 million to fund a lower Mississippi River Management program to develop and update plans on how the lower river is managed for coastal restoration as well as navigation and flood control.

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