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More than 200 business leaders sound alarm over unsettling moves by new governor: 'The very future of our state is at stake'

Politics often have a direct impact on environmental progress.

Politics often have a direct impact on environmental progress.

Photo Credit: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Louisiana's new governor is making waves, but not in the way coastal protectors had hoped.

What's happening?

Gov. Jeff Landry has shared plans to change the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, as reported by the Washington Post

He removed six board members and proposed merging the CPRA into a larger department to improve efficiency. Critics say these changes could disrupt the agency's work in protecting the state's coastlines and wetlands from rising sea levels and hurricanes.

In response, more than 200 business leaders, environmental advocates, and experts have expressed their concerns in an open letter

"The very future of our state is at stake," the letter reads.

Why is coastal protection important?

The CPRA has been instrumental in safeguarding Louisiana's coast, which is rapidly eroding. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the agency has fortified levees, restored barrier islands, and worked to combat land loss, according to the Post. 

According to the CPRA, Louisiana has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of land since the 1930s — roughly the size of Delaware, as the Post noted. Scientists predict the state could lose another 3,000 in the next 50 years. Weakening the CPRA could jeopardize efforts to protect the state from future storms and rising sea levels.

In particular, people are concerned with the Mississippi River diversion project that Gov. Landry's administration is stalling, potentially because of political reasons. This project is crucial for restoring coastal wetlands by bringing new sediment to rapidly sinking areas. Without it, Louisiana could face even greater land loss, weakening natural defenses against hurricanes and storms.

What's being done about coastal protection?

Environmental groups and experts are voicing their opposition, emphasizing the need to keep the CPRA independent and science-based. 

Politics often have a direct impact on environmental progress, as seen with Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who made protecting the Amazon a top priority when he took office. According to satellite data from Brazil's space research agency INPE, deforestation rates in the Amazon have dropped significantly. However, a recent deal with a meat processor and China could have a negative impact on deforestation in the country. 

Conversely, political decisions, such as former U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delaying the ban on new combustion-engine cars and gas boilers, have been criticized for potentially undermining climate goals. These examples show how political and corporate actions can hinder efforts to tackle critical climate issues effectively.

In Louisiana, advocates are calling for greater attention to preserving the agency's work and ensuring political changes do not disrupt critical environmental protections.

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