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Southwest Louisiana ,
Sand is pumped out of a pipeline as part of a coastal restoration and protection project in Holly Beach. (John Guidroz / American Press)

Sand is pumped out of a pipeline as part of a coastal restoration and protection project in Holly Beach. (John Guidroz / American Press)

We need Texas' help on coastal restoration

Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 1:08 PM

Louisiana appears to have picked up a massive and key ally in its campaign to garner attention for its vanishing coastline.

A recent statewide poll for America’s Wetland Foundation found that a majority of Texans are worried about the future of their state’s coast as an economic engine that relies on a healthy ecosystem. The results are similar to the same concerns expressed by Louisiana voters in a survey commissioned by the foundation.

Foundation president Val Marmillion said Texas ‘‘is poised to join Louisiana in recognizing the Gulf Coast as one of the world’s great ecosystems.’’

Among the poll’s findings:

 Eighty-six percent of Texas voters say that a strong Texas economy is dependent on a healthy coastal environment. Ninety-one percent of Louisiana voters link economic strength and environmental health.

 Ninety-five percent of both Louisiana and Texas respondents believe that perceived conflicts between energy production and environmental protection have become too politically divisive and that greater cooperation is needed to address coastal sustainability.

  About 85 percent of both Texas and Louisiana voters said restoring the coast, wetlands and barrier islands would help alleviate coastal insurance problems.

 Eight-eight percent of Texas voters said that the federal government should provide a higher percentage of oil and gas revenues to the energy producing states. Ninety-four percent of Louisiana voters agree.

 Three in four Texas voters are concerned with the loss of coastal habitat for wildlife.

 Sixty-two percent of respondents said Texas was a state with a coast while 38 percent identified it as a coastal state.

“The findings were similar when we first polled coastal issues in Louisiana a decade ago,” said Marmillion. “Like in Houston, people in New Orleans didn’t view themselves as a coastal community. Today in post-Katrina Louisiana, that has all changed. Seventy-four percent of Louisiana voters statewide now say coastal restoration is the issue of their lifetime.’’

He said the poll provides motivation and encouragement to Texans who have been working to raise awareness of the coast’s importance, much the same way Louisiana has built support for coastal sustainability over the past decade.

“The new findings are a powerful instrument for charting a course forward for dealing with coastal issues in Texas,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute. “It was a bit disturbing to see confirmation that Texans see themselves as a state with a coast, rather than a coastal state. That may seem subtle but to those of us for whom this issue is paramount, the poll draws a line in the beach sand. It will be the measuring stick of our effectiveness in convincing our fellow citizens that the future of Texas rests with assuring a coast that is economically and environmentally healthy and productive.’’

America’s Wetland Foundation senior advisor Sidney Coffee said the poll shows that voters across Texas ‘‘join Louisiana voters in seeing the link between a strong environment and the economy that depends upon it.’’

To that, we say, welcome aboard to our neighbors to the west. The more voices to advocate for the coastal regions of this nation, the better.

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