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Long silent eco-lambs finally say, “Baaa.”

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muzzledlambsby Len Bahr, Ph.D.

In an article in nola.com|thetimes-picayune Mark Schleifstein noted that for the first time in recent memory a coalition of three national and two local environmental groups spoke out against a policy decision by the state coastal protection and restoration authority (CPRA). This notable event occurred at the monthly CPRA meetting on January 21 at the State Capitol. These non governmental organizations (NGOs) include the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Association (NWF), the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF).

These NGOs  objected to a 5% cut in funding announced by CPRA-for restoration related activities during fiscal years 2015 and 2016, as a result of the state $1.4 billion budget shortfall announced by the Jindal administration. Curiously enough, at the same meeting the CPRA announced that the cost of the state’s 50 year Master Plan was being upped from $50 to $70 billion. Where the money’s supposed to come from was undisclosed.

Would that these same groups would have objected to previous CPRA policy decisions such as squandering at least $165 million on temporary sand berms after the BP blowout. They could also have strenuously objected to the ongoing effort to piecemeal the totally bogus $11 billion Morganza to the Gulf project. I’ll bet the 5% budget cut could be met just by ceasing all additional work on that project alone. Finally, for EDF to have awarded former CPRA head and climate change denier Garret Graves $135,000 for his successful run for Congress is still mystifying and it won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

During the same meeting the authority members heard a presentation by John Wells, leader of a panel of experts appointed by The Water Institute of the Gulf (TWIG) to oversee river sediment diversion projects under development. CPRA scientists also announced that two sites along the lower river are under scrutiny for diversion projects in addition to a site at Myrtle Grove.

Finally, according to a report on the same meeting by Amy Wold in The Advocate, a group of environmental groups and concerned citizens from Plaquemines Parish publicly objected to the issuance of a permit by DNR for the operation of a coal distribution facility (the RAM project) near the site of the Myrtle Grove project. They got no response from the CPRA.

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