U.S. Government to Distribute $1 Billion to Protect Shoreline Environments

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today applauded federal approval of Louisiana's Coastal Impact Assistance Program, calling it a major step forward in providing up to $1 billion over four years to help Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas producing states restore and protect their shoreline environments.

"I welcome this opportunity to fund these vital projects for the State of Louisiana and 19 of its coastal parishes," Kempthorne said. "Restoring and protecting natural coastal resources is fundamental to the Interior Department's mission."

Created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Coastal Impact Assistance Program disburses $250 million annually for four years, 2007 2010, to six eligible Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas producing states Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, California, Mississippi and Texas. The funding includes $127.5 million for each of the fiscal years 2007 and 2008, totaling $255 million, to Louisiana and 19 Coastal Political Subdivisions (parishes) for funding of projects outlined in the plan.

Louisiana's plan, which contains 168 projects covering all four years of the program, is the first plan to be approved. All projects must comply with one of five authorized CIAP uses: the conservation, protection, or restoration of coastal areas, including wetlands; mitigation of damage to fish, wildlife, or natural resources; planning assistance and the administrative costs of complying with CIAP legislation; implementation of a federally-approved marine, coastal, or comprehensive conservation management plan; or mitigation of the impact of offshore oil and gas activities through funding of onshore infrastructure and public service needs.

The remaining five eligible states -- Alabama, Alaska, California, Mississippi and Texas -- have until July 1, 2008, to submit their final plans to MMS.

"MMS has looked at these projects and is confident that they meet the requirements of the program to further the efforts of Louisiana to restore, enhance and protect its natural coastal resources," said Kempthorne.

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