A plan giving a state-level board oversight of both coastal restoration and levee rebuilding won approval Sunday night despite concerns that adding another level of government may not be a drastic enough change.
The governor-backed legislation is an attempt to coordinate across parish lines projects that protect communities from hurricanes.
Past efforts to rebuild the coast and maintain levees have been fragmented as various state and local agencies worked on their own, supporters of Senate Bill 71 say.
Some lawmakers have argued that a better solution would be eliminating the state's 20-something levee boards and creating one entity to manage projects for the entire state.
Neither a lack of science nor a lack of technology will prevent Louisiana from having effective hurricane protection. The problem stems from a lack of leadership and a patchwork approach to building and maintaining that protection system, a California researcher said.
"This is not an engineering problem; we know how to do it," said Robert Bea, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley.
Is the house bill an answer to this problem?
UPDATE: I have read over the bill, and it does have teeth. Budgetary authority over all federal and state funding is part of the charge of this commission, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and it will have the ability to seek injunctions against any project which it does not approve. The governor is given large appointive powers. The bill specifies funding through a guaranteed percentage of all oil revenues. The CPRA will submit a yearly plan subject to the approval of the legislature. To my politically naive eyes, it seems like a very good development. And it seems likely to pass and be signed into law.
Update 2: It passed the Senate today and goes to Blanco's desk where it will be signed into law. (link)