11 July, 2017
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Louisiana is confronting the largest land loss crisis in North America. This accelerated land loss has far-reaching economic implications and poses real threats to the Mississippi River navigation system, our nation’s largest port system, seafood industries, as well as oil and gas production and petrochemical manufacturing. As the leaders of businesses, industry trade associations, civic groups, and sportsmen’s organizations, we want to thank you for your commitment to protecting jobs, growing the national economy, and allowing states autonomy and flexibility in how they approach their own unique challenges. In that context, we also urge you to reconsider one recommendation in your Fiscal Year 2018 budget submission that would seriously jeopardize your goals and ours in Louisiana.
The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act will soon provide the only consistent source of federal funds dedicated to combat Louisiana’s land loss crisis. This predictable source of revenue – constitutionally committed to implementation of the State’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast – is critical for the communities and businesses that rely on a stable Louisiana coastline to survive and grow. Therefore, we respectfully request that you withdraw your Administration’s FY 2018 proposal to repeal funding to the Gulf States currently mandated by law under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).
Coastal Louisiana is an economic engine that feeds and fuels the nation, and its ports connect the U.S. with the world. Large-scale restoration of coastal Louisiana presents a huge opportunity to protect existing infrastructure and industry of national importance. It also provides an opportunity to grow a restoration economy that can be a model for other coastal communities around the world. The state of Louisiana supports the U.S. economy by providing:
Five of the nation's 15 largest shipping ports by cargo volume, handling a fifth of all waterborne commerce in the United States, generating $11 billion of economic impacts and 1 of every 5 jobs in the State; $47 billion per year in oil and gas production; 40,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry; Nearly 30 percent of the commercial fishing landings of the continental United States; $1.8 billion annual impact from recreational fishing; Important wintering habitat for waterfowl in the Mississippi and Central Flyways, critical to a $3 billion national waterfowl hunting industry which supports 27,348 jobs; $16.5 billion per year in tourism in Louisiana; and $9 billion per year in restaurant sales, supporting 207,000 jobs in Louisiana
Failure to implement coastal restoration exposes business, residential and infrastructure assets to greater risk from storms, which could cause damages of up to $138 billion from each major storm. Coastal restoration also mitigates land loss, which will cost businesses an additional $11.2 billion in business disruptions and loss of assets now located on land expected to be lost.
In addition to mitigating the economic costs of storm damage and land loss, investing in coastal restoration will support nearly 60,000 jobs over the next 10 years and $1.1 to $1.5 billion in annual output. Equally important, these jobs are queued up under the projects that have already received extensive study, modeling and approval as part of the State’s innovative 2017 Coastal Master Plan to address the land loss crisis.
The GOMESA funds, drawn from energy revenues generated here in the waters off our coast, have been a cornerstone for coastal planning since passage of the Act in 2006. As noted above, Louisiana voters constitutionally dedicated this funding stream to the State’s Coastal Trust Fund, which supports implementation of the Coastal Master Plan.
In short, billions of dollars in jobs, essential industries, infrastructure, and flow of commerce will be at risk, along with our coastal communities, wildlife, and way of life, if the current federal legal obligation to share in the cost of coastal restoration is undermined.
We strongly believe that the FY 2018 budget repeal of GOMESA dollars is inconsistent with protecting and growing the Gulf Coast and national economy. We respectfully request that you reconsider that approach, as you work with us and our communities to strengthen our working coast.
Michael Hecht, President & CEO
President Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.)
Coast Builders Coalition