Jan 11, 2007
Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
January 10, 2007
Good morning. Today we charge you, the newly appointed members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, with a mission of levee protection. This is perhaps the most serious issue we are facing. Levee board reform marks an historic step forward in our determination to build an integrated coastal restoration and hurricane protection system.
Please join me in thanking the nominating committee for selecting a high-caliber Board of engineers, scientists and professionals.
Your nomination process puts knowledge, expertise and safety before politics.
To the newly appointed board members, thank you for answering the call to duty. I'm confident this Board will be as strong or stronger than any Board with jurisdiction over this subject matter anywhere in this country.
Board members, I'm charging you with a number of missions. I want you to focus on flood control, flood control, FLOOD CONTROL! If you do this, we can put safety first.
You are our eyes and ears we trust to see that our levees are properly constructed and maintained.
We're counting on you to hold the Corps of Engineers and the Congress accountable to the people.
Every homeowner - every person - who lives and works behind those levees deserves no less.
We will rest secure when we have verification that our government is going to provide enough money to build and maintain levees with the best technology possible.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita demonstrated to the nation what can go wrong when the right investments are not made.
For years, Louisiana has been begging the federal government to invest in strengthening our levee system and rebuilding our wetlands. We needed these investments to protect life and property.
Unfortunately, the storms served as a far more expensive demonstration project proving we were right.
We are in a new era that demands a new approach to storm protection. Before the storms, a high functioning levee board was not considered critical to insurance affordability.
Now - in conversations I've had working to solve the insurance crisis - levee investment overseen by a strong levee board is a key piece of the puzzle. So is coastal restoration.
It took our tragedy to free-up the federal resources and create the political willpower needed to move forward.
I created the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to lead the way in forming a unified vision for an integrated regional system. The CPRA will be working with you and all stakeholders to make sure that this plan is right for your region.
Local governments are no longer planning in isolation. We are thinking and planning holistically. For the first time, we are working to build the integrated hurricane protection and coastal restoration system we need to survive.
The CPRA has been in the process of developing a master plan to bring world class flood protection to New Orleans and the surrounding areas. They look forward to working with you to finalize this effort.
We'll achieve an integrated system and we will have success when we rebuild the barrier islands needed to protect the wetlands, restore the wetlands needed to protect the levees, and strengthen the levees needed to protect the people.
Our future depends on investing OCS revenues to finance our coastal restoration and hurricane protection plans.
I took the federal government to Court to give us leverage on this issue. We succeeded in a settlement that temporarily blocks the federal government from selling new offshore leases.
Our case sent shockwaves through the federal government by requiring honest environmental analysis and suggesting that environmental mitigation might be required in the future.
Our lawsuit provided powerful leverage to our Congressional delegation as they worked to pass Senator Landrieu's revenue sharing bill through Congress.
The people of Louisiana made an extraordinary statement by passing a Constitutional Amendment dedicating 100% of any future offshore revenue funding to coastal restoration and hurricane protection. I urged passage of this amendment in order to demonstrate that these two issues are Louisiana's greatest priorities. Over 80% of the voters agreed.
Thanks to the hard work at many levels, we will now be receiving a revenue stream that we have been seeking for generations. This will enable us to invest in our own security. All of our work is coming together and we are making progress.
You, as members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, are central to our vision for the future. I am confident that you will move this vision forward by demanding excellence in levee protection. Working together, we are putting the systems in place to set the stage for the sound and robust recovery we all desire.
Let's get to work.