Vitter said diversions are "going to be the most difficult, the most controversial" aspects of the restoration plan. He added: "The possible negative impacts are very real." He added that "you have to measure and tweak projects as you go along."
The candidates predicted the eventual cost of coastal restoration would reach $100 billion. Vitter said he would seek to engage private companies, such as oil and gas companies, in spending more on the coast. Edwards and Dardenne offered similar ideas. Vitter also said he would work with other Gulf states to expand offshore drilling to bring in more funds.
Dardenne said he would campaign for more federal funding. "We need the assistance of America to make sure this program works," he said. "Everybody needs to know this is America's wetlands." Vitter said he would seek to engage private companies, such as oil and gas companies, in spending more on the coast. Edwards and Dardenne offered similar ideas.
Fishermen oppose river diversions because they would alter water conditions and likely make it difficult to harvest shrimp, crabs and oysters where fresh water is flushed into estuaries.
"Simply put, diversions are the backbone" to coastal restoration, Edwards said. But he said projects need to be weighed against socio-economic factors.
The four candidates did not propose large-scale new mechanisms for funding the enterprise, even as candidates predicted the cost of coastal restoration would reach $100 billion. Edwards said he would seek to get the federal government to do more to fix Louisiana's problems. "This is a national priority," he said.
"David Vitter has always fought for Louisiana values and gotten things done," his spokesman said. "Passing major bipartisan bills like WRRDA, the flood insurance fix, and the Steve Gleason Act; holding agencies like the Corps and FEMA accountable--that's the Vitter record, and nobody can match it."
"If I had been in Congress, I would have been as strong as any advocate for aid for the people of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." Maness wrote in an email. But he said he still would have voted no because unrelated expenditures were added to the 2005 disaster legislation. "I would have voted no on the pork-laden bill that included $50 million for an indoor rainforest in Iowa and other spending, and other pet projects," Maness said. "I would have been bold in press conferences denouncing anyone who opposed a clean bill to help the people of Louisiana instead of holding them hostage like the political class did.
Vitter prides himself on pressuring federal agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to move on flood-prevention projects.
Landrieu said she was proud of expanding oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, with a large portion of the royalties going to help coastal protection efforts.
Kennedy responded by saying the state’s entire congressional delegation worked to pass the bill & much of the billions of dollars in royalties wouldn’t start flowing until 2017, after thousands more acres of wetlands had washed away
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