Fiscal cliff looms over Louisiana's coast

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wwltv.com

Posted on November 29, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 29 at 7:01 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

THIBODAUX, La.-- Where the land gradually meets the water along coastal Louisiana, the fiscal cliff looms large.

"If the federal budget is cut, we're going to be in serious trouble," said Kerry St. Pe, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) director.

BTNEP is based in Thibodaux. Their coastal restoration and education programs are funded, in part, by the federal government. That funding is threatened because of the fiscal cliff.

"We have a very big sand fencing project we do on Grand Isle and that's funded through our federal budget," St. Pe said. "So, things like that would become fewer and fewer."

The estuary program is one of 300 restoration groups that signed and sent this letter to the White House and Congress, urging them to reach a compromise. Among their specific concerns, potential cuts to EPA, Army Corps and Fish and Wildlife Restoration programs.

In their letter, the group said it is not just about the environment; it is also about jobs. They pointed to a recent U.S. Department of Commerce study, which found that out of every $1 million spent on restoration, 17 jobs are created.

"We want to be making sure we're protecting jobs now, when the economy still needs more job growth," said Jason Furman, principal deputy director of the National Economic Council.

St. Pe said he would also like to see growth in the federal funding for their program.

"We're hoping that continues, that we're still get the support of our federal legislators," he said, "and that they won't cut us as bad as they possibly could."

Whether that happens will depend on what unfolds in the final weeks of the year and more than a thousand miles away from Louisiana's shores.

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