October 18, 2010
Legislators Urge Feds to Cap the Costs of Disasters to States
DENVER – State legislators from the four Gulf Coast energy producing states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas will raise fundamental issues of federalism, and discuss where state and federal authorities lay in times of disaster and in response to growing coastal vulnerabilities.
State legislators and legislative leaders will meet in New Orleans on Oct. 21, at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Coastal Policy Forum, which is part of the DELTAS2010: World Delta Dialogues conference. Both of these meetings will allow state legislators in the Gulf Coast region to discuss environmental and economic issues specific to these states and to take the first steps to create a unified voice for legislatures in the Gulf region when dealing with Congress.
"States need to be able to respond quickly, adequately and efficiently to issues in the Gulf Coast area," said William T. Pound, executive director of NCSL. "We have learned from previous experiences and disasters in the region that the federal government has not always taken into account unique state programs already in place, often resulting in long-term cost consequences.”
Some of the issues facing state legislatures in the Gulf region are maintaining the cost of federal projects being built in the area, streamlining communications with federal agencies during a time of crisis, revenue sharing and finding support at the federal level for environmental challenges along the coast, which support the natural and economic basis of the entire nation.
"If you look at our budget situation in Louisiana, you will see hundreds of bills over the past decade that address the state costs associated with coastal decline. Many of those costs support the national interest, yet the burden falls to the state," said Joel Chaisson, president of the Louisiana Senate.
It is crucial the voices and concerns of state legislatures in the Gulf are heard at the Coastal Policy Forum and DELTAS12010 conference.
"Where do you think the ideas and stamina comes from to create planning mechanisms, to call together expert testimony and to invest in the scores of demonstration projects needed to rehabilitate a failing coast?,” asked King Milling, chairman of the America’s WETLAND Foundation. “It is the state legislatures who must pass budgets, direct their state agencies, and create the environmental and economic balance that works locally."
The ideas and suggestions discussed at the Coastal Policy Forum will be used to solidify the voice of state legislatures in the region when developing a plan to work in conjunction with the federal government on issues pressing to these states.
The DELTAS2010 conference, hosted by the America's WETLAND Foundation, is a first-of-its-kind event that will create an interdisciplinary dialogue on issues of global coastal vulnerabilities such as rising sea levels and land loss in the world’s highly productive and sensitive deltaic regions, with the Mississippi River delta as the model.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.