Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas are joining forces to fight to save the coast and wetlands of the Chenier plain which extends into both states.
Today they held a signing event to reinforce their pledge to work together. Often it's hard to get two states to work together. But Louisiana and
Texas officials believe there is strength in numbers when trying to get funding to restore vanishing coastal lands.
Chenier Plain is five million acres-- two thirds in Louisiana-- and one third west of the Sabine River, in Texas. It's so diverse--when it comes to plants and animals-- some call it America's Ark. Yet Louisiana alone loses an estimated 25 to 35 square miles yearly. Those from the two states who recognize the urgency have formed the Chenier Plain Alliance...
Calcasieu Police Jury President Dennis Scott says together they can accomplish more:
"We have an ecosystem in Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas known as the Chenier Plain and it's one of three in the world. So, not only is it a treasure that should be looked at that way, but the benefits of it, whether it's economic or the wildlife that live here, are what we share."
If the Chenier Plain ports were counted together-- that's Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles-- their tonnage would rank higher than New York and New Jersey.
Said Scott, "I believe that speaking as two different states on one issue i believe we have a better chance of acquiring some of these RESTORE Act funds that will come down the pipe whether it's in the next eight months or eight years. But we have to continue to speak that same common voice to be able to leverage that.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster offers an opportunity to help restore the Gulf of Mexico explains Tim Richardson, a consultant for Texas from Washington D.C. He uses the Exxon Valdez disaster to explain the kind of dollars B.P. will likely pay out to improve the gulf coast.
"A link to injury and a potential for benefit is kind of the magic carpet of how you're going to see B.P. roll out in terms of the environmental competitive dollars. If you have the critters that were injured, you have a link. Water was the greatest natural resource injured. You got water. You qualify. You can benefit the gulf."
If nothing were done, Louisiana could lose about 500 square miles over fifty years-- But not if these allies can stop it.
For more on the Chenier Plain and what officials say should be done to save and restore it