Environmental Groups Praise Decision to Give Louisiana a 30-Year by vgt30370

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									For Immediate Release
Contact: Sharyn Stein, Environmental Defense Fund, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org
         Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation, 225-205-2804, woodm@nwf.org
         Paul Kemp, National Audubon Society, 225-768-0820, pkemp@audubon.org

     Environmental Groups Praise Decision to Give Louisiana a
           30-Year “Mortgage” on Levee Improvements
(New Orleans – August 11, 2008) – The federal government’s decision to give Louisiana
a 30-year “mortgage” to pay its share of the cost of levee improvements is only the first
step toward keeping the state’s citizens safe from future hurricanes. That’s the conclusion
of three of the country’s leading environmental groups, who say Louisiana must also put
funding into restoring wetlands in order to provide reliable, long-term protection.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and the
National Audubon Society all praised the federal government’s decision to extend
Louisiana’s deadline to pay its share of levee improvement costs. Legislation that was
passed after Hurricane Katrina provides $5.8 billion in federal funding for rebuilding
infrastructure in the New Orleans area, but the state must provide $1.8 billion of its own
funds to get the money. The original federal legislation gave Louisiana only three years
to come up with the $1.8 billion. Late last week, Governor Bobby Jindal joined Bush
administration officials to announce that the repayment period has been extended to 30
years.

“This agreement alleviates a flood-like financial burden on the people of Louisiana, and
the Governor Jindal has done a great job of holding the federal government to its promise
of helping Louisiana rebuild,” said Paul Harrison, Coastal Louisiana Project Manager for
Environmental Defense Fund. “A workable, 30-year payment timetable will allow
funding to go to other critical priorities, especially restoring the coastal wetlands.”

Governor Jindal has said the extension will give Louisiana the freedom to “aggressively
pursue” efforts to rebuild healthy coastlines and wetlands.

“Our coastal wetlands are Louisiana’s natural hurricane protection systems. We must
protect these critical natural areas, along with strengthening levees,” said Maura Wood,
Senior Program Manager, Coastal Louisiana Restoration for the National Wildlife
Federation. “Now we need to make sure that all the available funding is focused on bold
projects that build land and restore the wetlands that keep south Louisiana safe.”

“Levees alone will never be enough to protect the people of Louisiana,” said Audubon’s
Paul Kemp, Vice President, Gulf Coast Initiative for the National Audubon Society. “We
need to work with Mother Nature, not against her. We need to make sure that the funding
freed up by this decision goes towards Louisiana’s most urgent priority – restoring the
wetlands that are the first line of defense."

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