BP influence on master plan helpful

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority anticipated hearing from residents of the Tri-parish region Tuesday at the second of three public meetings that could determine how Louisiana spends $923 million for hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects during the 2013 fiscal year.

The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan revealed that legislators anticipate receiving $267 million in BP compensation payments from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for fiscal year 2013. BP had previously paid $1 billion for Gulf Coast restoration of which Louisiana received only $100,000.

In addition, the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan lists $270 million promised by BP for restoration in fiscal 2014.

Public hearings led by government officials are nothing new. Based on previous experience they offer promises but no guarantees n frequently resulting in disappointment.

A year ago, residents made appeals during public meetings regarding Congressional redistricting with a Tri-parish delegation that claimed it would not let legislators in Baton Rouge split Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes from one another. The result was to separate both parishes, each with a line through its own territory.

Only state Sen. Norby Chabert issued the warning that Gov. Bobby Jindal and influential members of the House and Senate had already decided on criteria that would draw the final redistricting plan, which took a position of influence away from Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary parishes.

With $267 million of uncertain cash on the line, we cannot afford to let behind-the-scenes decision making fly in the face of vocal constituents.

On Jan. 13, BP Gulf of Mexico Regional Production Unit President James Dupree graciously handed L.E. Fletcher Technical Community College $4 million for construction of a new integrated production technologies facility near Schriever.

Dupree told those in attendance for that presentation how Fletcher, the Tri-parish region and BP are involved in a partnership for the future.

Based on that proclaimed partnership, we urge Mr. Dupree to invest his influence on behalf of the region that BP’s Houma Operations Center calls home, to insure that our more than a 150 mile-long line on the Gulf of Mexico be compensated for damages and not cut short of its fair share in coastal restoration funds.

Public meetings might be required by law, but public voices should never be dismissed as a detail of process and procedure.

We expect our elected officials to represent local interests and ask Mr. Dupree, as a neighbor and partner for the future, to do the same.