The state of Louisiana, which has over 7,000 miles of coastline and sits on the frontline of climate change, could lose up to 4000 square miles in the next 50 years if it doesn’t take action to respond and adapt to climate change. The state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has devised a 50-year, $50 billion climate response plan, which includes measures such as raising homes to protect them against flooding, relocation of communities in areas that can’t be protected, and wetlands protection measures. Wetlands serve as “speed bumps” for storms, helping decrease intensity and impact.
While the state has identified some revenue streams for the plan, federal resources will still be necessary. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA-6) has advocated for his coastal district and the state as a whole. While he admits, “There’s a lot of taint or stink that goes along with, ‘Hey, we need to make investments to adapt to climate change,'” his approach has been to emphasize that making investments now can help stave off federal investments in disaster response later.
“Many members of Congress believe we can’t afford to come in and make these investments in adaptation in these coastal areas,” Graves says. “I would argue that we can’t afford not to.”
Graves was recently named chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency. “The stupidity of spending billions of dollars after disasters instead of millions on prevention beforehand has to end,” he said in a statement after receiving the post.