Coastal restoration project faces opposition from Louisiana and Mississippi leaders


PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WGNO) — Louisiana’s plan to restore the coast with the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Project is now facing opposition from outside of the state.

Mississippi’s Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann is joining Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser in saying the diversion would hurt marine life in both states.

Tuesday afternoon, both lieutenant governors were in Pass Christian, Mississippi as several endangered sea turtles were released back into their natural habitat. Nungesser and Hosemann hope the saved turtles spark a greater conversation about their ecosystem and the potential impacts the diversion project could have.

“You don’t think you’re going to have a dead zone that will kill everything? It’s ludacris to think it won’t,” Nungesser said.

Ultimately, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Project would punch a whole in the Mississippi levee just below Belle Chasse to allow the river water to rebuild lost sediment along the coast. The Coastal Protection Restoration Authority believes this is the state’s best chance at restoring, building and sustaining wetlands.

Nungesser said, “It’s the fisherman, it’s the people that love this coast up against all the money, all the people on the payroll and all of the studies and money that they’ve thrown at these organizations to support this project. In the end, I think people will realize it’s going to do more harm than good for Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

Mississippi leaders argue if the diversion project goes through, the ripple effect will be felt far beyond the water.

Lt. Governor Hosemann said, “It’s an economic destruction for not only this city, but every city along the Gulf Coast. We need to get this right.”

Hosemann is concerned the diversion project will kill oyster beds, kill dolphins and ultimately do irreparable damage.

“We do not need to kill east Louisiana or Mississippi for that matter,” Hosemann said. “We can do this ecologically friendly and with common sense.”

CPRA Board Chairman Chip Kline said, “The real threat to our coastal ecosystems and the fish and wildlife they support is the continued loss of our coastal wetlands, not projects, like sediment diversions, designed to restore them. The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion has been thoroughly evaluated by the USACE and shown to have no impacts east of the Mississippi River. CPRA maintains that this project is the best way to sustainably address the loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands; wetlands that are vitally important to the entire northern Gulf of Mexico.”

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