When John Bel Edwards starts his new job as governor in January he will face lots of big decisions on how to spend BP settlement money and bring in more capital to restore the eroding coast.
During the runoff, Bel Edwards and senator David Vitter didn’t spend much time on coastal issues. Both agreed on restoration as a priority and said the state needs more federal support for its coastal master plan.
Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Chip Kline, likes how Edwards plans to manage the state’s Coastal Trust Fund, which includes money from oil and gas leasing. “He is adamant that coastal dollars that are going into our trust fund, whether it be from BP, GOMESA (Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act) or other sources, are actually spent on coastal restoration and hurricane protection -- that the dollars designed to address the crisis in coastal Louisiana are spent in that manner," says Kline.
In the past, lawmakers have considered tapping the fund for infrastructure projects not directly linked to rebuilding the coast.
In a letter just before election day, Edwards said he would convince Congress and the White House that Louisiana’s coastal restoration is a national priority worthy of tens of billions of dollars. He didn’t detail how.