The Louisiana governor’s Climate Initiatives Task Force met March 9 for the first time since unanimously passing a climate action plan in January, the first of its kind in the Gulf South.
Fifty public meetings into its 16-month existence, the task force is shifting gears from planning to executing its 84-step action plan. A bipartisan infrastructure act signed into law by President Joe Biden provides a unique opportunity to fund these efforts.
Louisiana is set to qualify for billions of dollars for road repairs, extreme weather preparedness, public transportation, broadband expansion and more. Another $179 billion in competitive federal funds is up for grabs to fund infrastructure projects, with special consideration for climate-focused efforts.
While task force members were optimistic about the prospect of federal funding, they are also dealing with the political uncertainty, LSU Manship School News Service reports.
“I really want to encourage folks to pay attention to what’s already being rolled out” in the Louisiana Legislature, says Flozell Daniels, president of the Foundation for Louisiana, referring to proposals to shield the state’s oil and gas industry from the changes.
“Much of it is designed to undermine the considerable work that’s been put into this plan, and we should acknowledge that,” Daniels says.
Federal dollars present a chance to set the task force’s goals in motion—a chance that may not come again for a long time.
“This really is a generational opportunity, and that may be putting it mildly because I don’t know the next time it’s going to come,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told task force members. “But this is a rare opportunity to invest in our state, but also to make good on the commitments in the climate action plan.”