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La.'s Coast Eroding Faster Than Thought . . . Gaia comments

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  • Mike Doran
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=519&e=20&u=/ap/20030522/ap_on_re_us/coastal_er osion_2 La. s Coast Eroding Faster Than Thought Thu
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2003
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      La.'s Coast Eroding Faster Than Thought
      Thu May 22, 3:07 AM ET Add U.S. National - AP to My Yahoo!


      By CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Writer

      NEW ORLEANS - The erosion of Louisiana's fragile coast is even worse
      than previously thought, and a third of the state's shoreline, home
      to the fabled Mississippi River Delta, could be wiped out by 2050
      without urgent action, the U.S. Geological Survey (news - web sites)
      said.



      Between 1932 and 2000, about 1,900 square miles of Louisiana's marshy
      coast washed away, up from the previous estimate of 1,500 square
      miles, said the USGS (news - web sites), an Interior Department
      bureau charged with safeguarding the environment.


      The new figure was presented Wednesday to President Bush (news - web
      sites)'s environmental policy adviser, Jim Connaughton, who traveled
      to Louisiana to learn about erosion around the Delta.


      "Over the next 36 hours you will witness the greatest kept secret,
      you will see the pending destruction of the seventh largest delta in
      the world," King Milling, chairman of Gov. Mike Foster's advisory
      committee on coastal restoration, told Connaughton.


      "We believe that this administration should not become an unwitting
      partner to these catastrophic events," Milling said.


      To win hearts for a massive restoration project, the state is
      highlighting the importance of the business, wildlife and culture on
      the Delta — birthplace of the Blues, home to endangered species like
      the Louisiana black bear and American alligator, and a wintering
      ground for migratory songbirds.


      Louisiana wants the federal government to approve a major coastal
      engineering plan that could cost about $14 billion over several
      decades. Scientists say the bill is relatively cheap: Doing nothing,
      they estimate, will cost more than $100 billion just to restore
      infrastructure.


      Over the next 50 years, an additional 700 square miles of coastline
      are expected to be washed away, meaning a third of the Louisiana
      coast could be gone by 2050 unless new Mississippi River sediment is
      diverted to swamps and marshes, the USGS said. Louisiana represents
      about 90 percent of coastal wetlands loss in the lower 48 states, it
      said.


      The coast's problems date back to 1928, when the Mississippi River
      was corralled by levees and dams, which stopped flooding but also
      kept sediment — needed to replenish the coast — from reaching the
      deltaic plain. Navigation canals, oil and natural gas exploration and
      hurricanes also have chewed up the coast.


      Connaughton's trip includes a visit to Port Fourchon, which is key to
      the country's oil supply, and a meeting with Foster, who has begun a
      campaign to raise awareness nationally of Louisiana's coastal
      erosion.


      "I'm here to get a sense of the big picture," Connaughton said at a
      Wednesday briefing in New Orleans before leaving on a helicopter trip
      to the coast.


      Connaughton said Bush is interested in preserving wetlands and
      infrastructure. He said he will use what he learns about Louisiana's
      problem to better counsel the president on what can be done.


      The condition of the coast south of New Orleans in the Barataria and
      Terrebonne basins is the worst, said James Johnston of the Geological
      Survey's National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette.


      Since 1990, about 66 percent of the state's coastal loss occurred
      south of New Orleans and scientists estimate the area could produce
      as much as 80 percent of the loss over the next 50 years unless
      restoration work is done.


      In the last decade, Louisiana has spent over $400 million on about 65
      restoration projects, which have dealt with about 22 percent of the
      land loss, said Randy Hanchey, assistant secretary for coastal
      restoration at the state Department of Natural Resources.


      A group of state and federal agencies is working on the broader $14
      billion restoration plan and hopes it will be ready for Congress next
      year.


      "We will continue making the argument that this is not only our
      problem but the nation's problem," Hanchey said.

      Comments:

      This is a significant cause of the warmer and wetter US climate AND
      as the US plans to spend 14 billion--the climate implications, not
      understood, are going to be incredible. This may be the start of a
      drought and WORSE than the Dust Bowl. Without appreciating the Gaia
      consequences, this may be even a worse policy change than Bush's CO2
      policy, which is also mind boggingly stupid.
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