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Statement on Executive Orders to Address the Impact of Climate Change on Louisiana Communities.

Frontline Group Applauds Governor Edwards on the recent Executive Orders to Address the Impact of Climate Change on Louisiana Communities.

Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020

Baton Rouge, LA- Yesterday, at the Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority Board meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed two Executive Orders. One provides steps to improve state government by coordinating adaptation efforts more comprehensively across agencies under the leadership of the state’s first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), and the other formally establishes Louisiana’s first-ever Climate Initiatives Task Force, a group of stakeholders who will study and make recommendations to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions.

Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy offers the following statement in response:

This year has been a solemn one marked by a pandemic that has taken the lives of over 4,500 Louisianians, the 10th anniversary of the BP oil disaster, and the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. While all of us in Louisiana have felt this pain, the burden has fallen inequitably on the shoulders of members of our frontline community. Too many lives, and livelihoods, have been lost due to climate, health, and economic disasters. In the face of these tragedies and challenges, our communities have led with a resilient spirit. We have organized for change, fought for rights and justice, and demanded that our policymakers take seriously the challenges of economic and climate crises. Today, we applaud Governor Edwards for taking the first steps towards honoring these efforts and all those impacted by disaster by signing two Executive Orders.

Gov. Edward’s Executive Order to create a Chief Resilience Officer ̶ tasked with inter-agency coordination and coastal and community planning ̶ can create new pathways for removing barriers to planning and investing in long-term resiliency. The Second Executive Order establishing a Climate Initiatives Task Force, is the first of its kind for Louisiana. It has been long overdue that Louisiana create actions to address the climate crisis.

We welcome the Governor’s inclusion of environmental justice and Indigenous communities as voting members of this Taskforce and his commitment to finding solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, build our economy, and restore the Gulf Coast’s wetlands.

As critical as the Governor’s actions are today, we also remind our Louisiana community and all elected leaders that the time is now for bold solutions that address our intersecting health, climate, and economic crises. We have pushed for investments in long-term strategic, equitable, and resilient infrastructure so we can not only be prepared for the future storms ahead, but also build more equitable and just economies so our communities can thrive. At GCCLP, we remain committed to advocating for the rights of our communities and the solutions that they envision. In doing so, while we applaud these two Executive Orders, we will continue to advocate that the Chief Resilience Officer and Climate Task Force explicitly take on the structural racial inequities that are barriers to building a climate-resilient Louisiana for all.

We call on the new Chief Resilience Officer and the Climate Taskforce to listen to, and follow the lead of, the communities most impacted by disasters and currently marginalized in rebuilding efforts. And we invite all leaders, from local community leaders up to the Governor, to listen to the visions and solutions that our communities have laid out in the Gulf South for a Green New Deal proposal.

As we commemorate the 15th Anniversary of Katrina, we thank Governor Edwards for these steps and look forward to his continued leadership on these efforts.

The Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy is a public interest law firm and justice center working with communities on the frontlines of climate change to advance structural shifts toward climate justice and ecological equity in the Gulf South.; @GCCLP

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