Study: Billions at Stake if Pace of Land Loss Continues on Louisiana Coast

December 21, 2015

A new state study places a price tag on the costs Louisiana could suffer if land loss continues at the pace predicted by scientists — and it’s in the billions of dollars.

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority commissioned the study on the economic effects of land loss in Louisiana. The agency released the report on Dec. 16.

The study found that if a Hurricane Katrina-like storm hits again in the next half century coastal land loss could cost Louisiana more than $133 billion in economic damage, according to Times-Picayune.

The study estimated that “direct land loss” could put between 8,800 and 12,200 jobs at risk and cost businesses $5.8 billion over 25 years under an optimistic scenario.

The study examined how much the state must pay to replace commercial, residential and network infrastructure lost by the disappearing coastline. That estimate ranges from $2.1 billion over 25 years to $3.5 billion after 50 years.

Much more severe than land loss, according to the study, is the damage of hurricanes to the economy.

The study found that a hurricane following a western track through the Gulf of Mexico could cause about $10 billion in damage. It found that an eastern-track storm would cause about $133 billion in damage after 50 years of land loss.

The coastal agency plans to use the findings to quantify the economic effects of coastal erosion in Louisiana.

The damage estimates are based on assumptions that the state will continue to see its coastline erode over the next 50 years at a pace scientists have documented.

The study was conducted by the Louisiana State University Economics and Policy Research Group and the RAND Corp.

“Every dollar we spend today on coastal restoration and protection will save us many, many more dollars in the future,” said Chip Kline, the chairman of the coastal agency. He said the study would help the state make “our case to Congress and the nation that it is better for many reasons to spend now rather than later.”

The state has laid out a 50-year, $50 billion coastal restoration master plan to stop land loss.

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