New Poll Shows Support for Coastal Restoration Gaining Momentum Statewide

Public in a fighting mode on sharing OCS revenues with Federal Government

New Orleans, LA – A poll, released today by the America’s WETLAND Foundation revealed that 66% of state residents are very concerned about loss of coastal wetlands in Louisiana. By a margin of 64% to 15%, the survey also placed the issue as primarily a national rather than a state problem. The poll was conducted by Loyola University professor, Dr. Ed Renwick to determine attitudes of Louisianans on a host of issues including, coastal wetland loss, hurricane protection, oil and gas exploration, and outer continental shelf revenue sharing.

“With eighty-three percent of those interviewed very concerned that a catastrophic event such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will occur again, the public is keenly aware of the relationship of coastal restoration to hurricane protection,” said Dr. Renwick. “We found that the aftermath of this tragedy is on the front burner of public attitudes throughout Louisiana and that the public is ready for the state to do what it takes to resolve the issue of coastal land loss.”

Eighty-seven percent of 600 voters were aware of the coastal wetland loss and seventy-three percent of those who had heard a lot about hurricane protection also were aware of coastal wetland loss. When asked how extensive wetland loss is, 83% said extensive. Of seven questions asked about Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, all had total awareness above 51%, No region of the state ranked awareness of the issue of coastal land loss below 50%. It was also found that issues of coastal wetland loss, oil and gas exploration and coastal protection were all virtually identical in total awareness.

By ninety per cent, those interviewed agreed that Governor Blanco should play hardball with the federal government on the issue of sharing revenues from the sale of outer continental shelf leases off Louisiana’s coast. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed agreed that obtaining 50% of the OCS revenue should be the number one priority of the Louisiana congressional delegation. “Louisianans finally found something they can agree on,” added Renwick. “When told that studies show the cost of solving the coastal land loss problem could be more than $14 Billion and take about fifteen years to complete 76% of those interviewed agreed that Louisiana should put $150 Million per year to match the federal funds for the next fifteen years to save the coastal wetlands,”

The America’s WETLAND/Renwick public opinion survey was conducted of approximately 600 registered Louisiana voters on May 1 through May 10, 2006. The poll’s margin of error is 4.1 points.

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita the issue of Louisiana’s coastal land loss was brought to the international stage. Louisiana is the home to almost 6,000 square miles of coastal wetlands, but they are being lost at an alarming rate  over 230 square miles just in the 1990’s. This vanishing landscape, known as America’s WETLAND, provides critical habitat for thousands of species. The area supports communities and culture and the important energy infrastructure that clings to Louisiana’s tattered coast.

The America’s WETLAND campaign was launched by the State of Louisiana in order to raise national awareness of the impact the state’s wetland loss has on the state, nation and world. By educating the public about the emergency situation created by the state’s land loss and the region’s world ecological significance and importance to national economic and energy security, the campaign aims to gain support for its efforts to conserve and save coastal Louisiana.

The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth.