On June 1, Times-Picayune Washington correspondent Jonathan Tilove reported on the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act (H.R. 2269), a bill reintroduced in Congress on May 5 by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and supported by Louisiana congressmen Charlie Melancon, Anh “Joseph” Cao, and Rodney Alexander, among about a dozen others. The bill would bring an estimated $6 billion to $7 billion in investment to the Gulf Coast to create 100,000 environmentally sustainable (“green”) jobs and training for residents of the Gulf Coast to rebuild their communities devastated by hurricanes. It would establish a Gulf Coast Civic Works Commission within the DHS’s Office of the Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding to coordinate projects, rebuild infrastructure, and revitalize the region’s workforce.
There is much to like about this bill. Here are some highlights. The Act would:
- Focus on hiring locally and training people to rebuild Gulf Coast communities
- Rebuild and repair vital infrastructure (schools, roads, water & sewer systems, etc.)
- Build flood protection with an emphasis on barrier islands & restored wetlands
- Create a Civic Conservation Corps to train a new generation of young workers to restore the coastline as a defense against storm surge
- Emphasize local needs, accountability, and community oversight to avoid waste & fraud
The bill has attracted 16 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Mississippi congressman Gene Taylor, Ways and Means chairman Charles Rangel of New York, and Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers of Michigan, as well as support from such various groups as the Louisiana Republican Party, the New Orleans City Council, ACORN, and Oxfam America. (See further details at the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign web site.)
But the bill needs a Senate sponsor—Mary Landrieu, perhaps?—so we’re asking Louisiana readers to urge Landrieu (504-589-2427 or 202-224-5824) and David Vitter (504-589-2753 or 202-224-4623) to support it. For readers in other parts of the U.S., please ask your state’s representatives (contact information here and here) to sign on. And please ask President Obama to support this legislation (White House phone: 202-456-1111; e-mail : email@example.com). While the president has been busy cleaning up messes, he has been silent on the plight of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It is up to us to persistently remind the administration that national security includes robust levees and restored wetlands and barrier islands, as Senator Landrieu has advocated following her recent mission to the Netherlands.