Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, WWNO has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

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Tegan Wendland / WWNO

The Mississippi River remains high as floodwater makes its way south from the Midwest, and the Army Corps of Engineers is inspecting the levees daily for problems like leaks.

 

The Corps started inspecting the river about two weeks ago, as the water began to rise.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

The outlook for the shipping industry under President Donald Trump, so far, has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some policies will be good for business, others might hamper it.

 

Despite that, the CEO of the Port of New Orleans says the future looks good.

 

Since taking office, Trump has pulled out of an international trade agreement and considered tariffs on certain imports. Both of these moves could mean less stuff flows through US ports.

 

Travis Lux / WWNO

Last August, several days of heavy rain flooded the Baton Rouge area. From Baton Rouge to Denham Springs to Gonzales -- rising waters flooded out around one hundred thousand homes and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. Recovery is ongoing, even nine months later.

 

The Baton Rouge area isn’t the only part of the state still struggling this many months out. The damage rippled out across the state -- all the way down to the tiny town of Leeville, near Grand Isle, along the coast.

 

Delayed Restoration Project Breaks Ground

May 16, 2017
Travis Lux / WWNO

The Army Corps will use sand and silt from the bottom of the Mississippi River to build new marshes. The restoration project has been delayed for several years, but is set to break ground next month.

mississippiriverdelta.org

Governor John Bel Edwards recently declared coastal land loss a "State of Emergency." Officials hope this will speed up federal approval of big coastal restoration projects -- like planned river diversions south of New Orleans.

 

Though good for the coast, big land-building projects can have unintended consequences -- like changing where certain species live. So if the feds agree, instead of a lengthy environmental review process the state could get leeway and start building earlier.

 

Flickr/Washington State House Republicans's photostream (CC BY-ND 2.0)

On Monday, Congress unveiled a spending bill that would fund the federal government through September. It includes $9 million for coastal restoration projects in Louisiana.

 

In an effort to help the state fight coastal land loss, the Army Corps of Engineers sometimes uses the mud it dredges from from navigation channels and the Mississippi River to rebuild marshes. It’s the Corps’ job to keep the river passable, so in these cases it reuses the material that it digs up.

Matt Hauer / Nature Climate Change

Rising seas and sinking land are forcing many along Louisiana’s coast to make hard decisions. Stay put, or move inland to safety. But it’s not just a problem here, coastal residents across the nation are facing the same challenges.

A study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change predicts that millions will move inland in coming years.

WWNO's Tegan Wendland talked with Matt Hauer, a demographer at the University of Georgia, about how this will change life in coastal areas - and create new challenges for the communities where those people will move. 

U.S. Department of the Interior

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week calling for more oil and gas drilling. But the final call is up to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

 

On Monday, the secretary endorsed Trump’s plan -- and then some.

St. John the Baptist Parish

St. John the Baptist is the latest parish to file a lawsuit against oil and gas companies. Parish officials say the industry is partially to blame for coastal land loss.

 

It’s the latest move in a long saga as the suits make their way through various courts.

Mike Mozart (flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Gas prices usually rise in the spring and peak around Memorial Day. That’s because refineries make more expensive blends for summer. Last week, though, prices leveled off early.

 

Though prices have been a little less predictable this year, the cause of that unpredictability could actually be good for the Louisiana oil and gas industry.

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