Poll: Coastal Louisianians Support Sediment Diversions

NEW ORLEANS — There is “widespread, bipartisan support for action to address Louisiana’s urgent land loss crisis through sediment diversions and other science-based restoration efforts,” according to a new poll of coastal Louisiana voters released today by Global Strategy Group (GSG) and Environmental Defense Fund. 

The groups say coastal Louisianians are familiar with the problem of land loss and see it as an urgent issue that must be addressed now. 97% of Louisiana’s coastal voters agree that state officials should work to maintain as much of Louisiana’s coast as possible, even if it’s not possible to restore the original footprint, they say.

More takeaways from the survey: 86% of voters indicate that stronger hurricanes and increased coastal flooding are already having a serious impact on Louisiana, with 70% reporting these forces are already impacting themselves and their families. The poll also found that 66% of voters believe climate change is already having a serious impact on Louisiana and acknowledge that “if we fail to act now, it will continue to have a serious impact on future generations.”

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According to the poll, voters are widely in agreement about how the state should address its land loss crisis with 82% of coastal Louisiana voters supporting sediment diversions — large-scale coastal restoration projects that would reconnect the Mississippi River to wetlands to sustain them over time. Support for diversions is strong in every region and among every demographic, including 74% of voters in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. More than half (56%) of voters indicate they would view state and local elected officials who support these projects more favorably and only 7% would view elected officials who support these projects less favorably. Moreover, support for sediment diversions is incredibly robust, holding at 70% after voters are exposed to a balanced debate that includes the language actually being used by certain opponents of these projects.

“This poll makes clear  that Louisianans are feeling the effects of flooding and land loss today and are deeply concerned about a future with fewer wetlands, more intense hurricanes and higher seas,” said Steve Cochran, Environmental Defense Fund associate vice president for coastal resilience and campaign director for Restore the Mississippi River Delta. “Voters in every region also show a great capacity to wade through the debates around sediment diversions, and strongly support these projects after considering all sides. Louisiana voters want elected officials to put the Mississippi River to work to restore and maintain as much of our coastal wetland buffer as possible, before it’s too late.

Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is advancing the Mid-Barataria and Mid-Breton Sediment Diversions — projects that will build and maintain tens of thousands of acres of land and habitat on either side of the river in Plaquemines Parish. Some critics of the plans,  including high-ranking state politicians, say they will take too long to rebuild land and could endanger wildlife.

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The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group for Environmental Defense Fund on behalf of Restore the Mississippi River Delta to determine the familiarity, interest and support for major coastal issues facing Louisiana.

About the poll: Global Strategy Group conducted a telephone survey of 1,058 registered voters in coastal Louisiana between July 14 and July 20, 2021. At least 150 interviews were conducted in each region of interest, including Orleans, Jefferson, Ascension, East and West Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington, Lafourche, St. Mary, Terrebonne, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. In the combined data, each region was weighted to be proportional to its share of registered voters within the coastal region. The margin of error at the 95% confidence level for coastal voters is not greater than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. In Greater New Orleans, the margin of error is not greater than plus or minus 5.7 percentage points. The margin of error for other regions is not greater than plus or minus 8.0 percentage points.

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