Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that BP has agreed to fund approximately $340 million in restoration projects for Louisiana. This investment is part of the $1 billion that BP agreed to invest for early restoration of damaged natural resources resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
BP has agreed to fund approximately $340 million for the restoration of four barrier islands from Terrebonne Parish to the east bank of Plaquemines Parish and two Fish Stock Research and Enhancement Centers.
In 2010, Louisiana was the first state to request that BP make a down payment to immediately begin restoring the damage the spill caused to the Gulf and coastal communities. In April of 2011, BP finally agreed to the state's request when they agreed to make a down payment of $1 billion for restoration projects across the Gulf.
In July of 2011, Governor Jindal announced the "Louisiana Plan" -- an initial list of priority projects that the state would be seeking under the $1 billion down payment. The list was developed with input from parishes, fishermen, coastal families, and other stakeholders.
Before today's announcement, BP had only approved 10 projects representing nearly $70 million of the $1 billion down payment. Governor Jindal stressed that the state has been frustrated by the slow pace of progress from BP in committing these funds to restoration needs in the Gulf and that this new investment is long overdue.
Governor Jindal said, "We have been very frustrated by the slow pace of progress in committing these funds to restoration needs in the Gulf. Today, we are excited to announce a big, and overdue, step forward in the restoration of Louisiana's Gulf.
"We must aggressively move forward on these and other important restoration projects to ensure future generations have the same great opportunities we have been able to experience growing up on the coast. This announcement today makes a great stride forward, but this marathon is far from over. We are going to hold BP accountable for all of the damages they have caused to our coast, our fishermen, our small businesses and our families."
This $340 million in funding represents the largest single component of restoration projects across the Gulf that BP has ever approved. Overall, Louisiana is home to approximately $370 million in projects approved so far through the early restoration process.
Governor Jindal emphasized that the disaster continues in Louisiana. The Governor said, "It has been over three years since BP's Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded, causing a spill estimated to reach five million barrels of oil, unprecedented rates of dispersants and natural gas to be released in the Gulf. We know from federal data that coastal Louisiana received approximately 92 percent of the heavily and moderately oiled shorelines in the entire Gulf of Mexico. An estimated 60 percent or more of injured, oiled and killed birds, mammals, fish and other wildlife found were off Louisiana's shore.
"Despite the fact that those three years have passed, there are still an estimated 200 miles of shoreline in our state that remain oiled and Louisiana has 100 percent of the remaining heavily and moderately oiled shorelines. Three years later, this disaster continues in Louisiana. We have seen impacts on our coast and erosion rates have increased in some areas; oyster production has dropped; shrimp, tuna, and mahi mahi reproduction rates appear to be lower; and marine mammals are experiencing one of the worst death rates ever. That's why it's critical BP live up to their promise to make this right."
The four barrier islands represent a roughly $320 investment for the restoration of areas that Governor Jindal called the most-injured by the BP oil spill. The four components of this project include:
Caillou Lake Headlands Component, which is also known as Whiskey Island, in Terrebonne Parish. This $110 million component will restore beaches, dunes and back-barrier marshes.
Cheniere Ronquille Component, which is on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish in Barataria Bay. This $35 million component will construct beaches, dunes and back-barrier marshes.
Shell Island Component, which is on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish in Barataria Bay. This $101 million component will restore back-barrier marsh and dunes and beach on the east and west lobes.
Breton Island Component, which is on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish in the Breton Sound. While the project configuration is being finalized, this $72 million component will restore and protect beach, marsh, and dune in the Breton Wildlife Refuge.
In total, these projects will create thousands of acres of dune and marsh, and restore miles of Louisiana's barrier island beaches.
Governor Jindal said, "These barrier islands are our first line of defense against storm surge and salt water intrusion, and they provide key habitat for many fish and bird species. These islands help to protect our coast and our communities. They have been eroding at an alarming rate and the oil spill exacerbated this loss. With these investments and other projects in the queue, this will nearly complete the restoration of the entire Barataria Bay barrier island chain as called for in the 2012 Master Plan. It is a major step forward."
BP is also funding $22 million for the establishment of Fish Stock Research and Enhancement Centers in Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish and Point a la Hache in Plaquemines Parish.
The center in Lake Charles will be focused on red fish, speckled trout and flounder. This facility will mark and monitor select game species in Louisiana to help improve the management of these important fisheries for Louisiana anglers.
The second center in Point a la Hache will focus on baitfish such as shrimp, cocahoe and croaker. The center will help inform fishery managers on reproduction, survivability and population health of baitfish in Louisiana's coastal estuaries.
Governor Jindal said, "Louisiana has one of the most productive fisheries in the nation. We produce more commercial seafood than any state in the continental United States, and Louisiana is one of the top recreational fishing destinations in the country. That's why it's critical for us to invest in and protect our fisheries."
Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana CEO David Cresson said, "Saltwater angling is an integral part of our culture and our coastal economy in Louisiana. We are blessed to have one of the world's greatest saltwater fisheries, and we deserve the very best available tools to manage that resource. The Louisiana Fisheries Research and Stock Enhancement Center will be one of the finest systems of its kind, and will ensure that our incredible coastal fisheries stay that way for future generations."
Jefferson Parish President John Young said, "This is a good first step toward restoring our coastline as a result of the devastation caused by the BP oil disaster. It is important those areas that were damaged receive the funds to help continue the healing and preservation of our precious marsh and coastline for future generations. This is so important not only to Jefferson Parish, but to our entire country, as well."
Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph said, "This early funding will jump start our recovery and restoration from the oil spill. This helps the healing."
Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse said, "These funds are critical for southeast Louisiana and its economy. Besides helping to restore our marsh lands and improve our fisheries it will provide a greatly needed buffer against hurricanes. Jefferson Parish appreciates the Governor's efforts to bring these dollars to southeast Louisiana."