By Christopher Flavelle
July 3, 2017, 5:00 AM EDT
Mathew Sanders, head of the resilience program at Louisiana’s Office of Community Development and the project’s chief, said that Isle de Jean Charles will demonstrate the viability of such efforts. “We’re going to find out the answer to that question, one way or another,” he said.
Failure would be all the more striking for the stakes involved. President Barack Obama’s administration awarded Louisiana $48 million to move fewer than 40 families, most of them members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe; the state said it wants to generate “a radical rethinking of the nation’s coastal land use and development patterns.”
But President Donald Trump has begun reversing Obama’s efforts to curb emissions, including leaving the Paris climate accord. His administration has told agencies to stop factoring climate change into decisions and targeted a program to help Indian tribes adapt to extreme weather.
Those shifts reflect the administration’s refusal to acknowledge scientific consensus. Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, told coal executives last week that he would start a “red team-blue team” exercise to challenge the very notion that greenhouse gases are warming the planet.
Trump’s actions are likely to increase pressure on coastal communities to consider whether, and how, to pull back from the water.
“This is the fate of cities throughout the U.S., as well as the world, and we’ve got to figure it out,” said Robin Bronen, a University of Alaska researcher who has worked with native communities seeking similar government-funded relocations.