Editorial: Texas coastal plans are nice; money counts, as well

The General Land Office’s updated Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan, released Monday, is a beauty, with lots of spot color, graphics and maps. It’s worth a look. Spilling out over 234 pages, it includes 123 projects that GLO believes are preferred, in that they can do the most good to “restore, enhance and protect the coast.” Can’t argue with that. Call them Tier 1 projects, which is what GLO does.

GLO started its master plan project three years ago, with the full realization that Texas had no such comprehensive coastal plan. It published its first plan in 2017 — just 36 pages — then followed with this update. Projects within the plan have been studied and vetted and approved by GLO. It is better to have your plan in place should money become available, then develop a plan after money is put on the line.

Of course, it would be good to have money, as well. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said flatly this week that, “The likelihood of those projects depends upon available funding.” To fund all the Tier 1 projects would cost $5.4 billion. That’s a lot — even for Texas-size wallets — but our coastline of 367 miles has Texas-sized needs.

To put the plan together, GLO said, it called upon representatives of industry, agencies, academics, local elected and appointed leaders and others with keen interest in the coast, including wildlife organizations. There’s reason to take such concerted care. The coast’s value, which includes a variety of cities and landscapes, holds unmatched value, GLO says. It is the main hub for the rest of the state and for the nation’s energy supply.

GLO, in the overview of the plan, explains:

“In recent years, Texas ports provided $368 billion in economic value to the state — roughly 23 percent of the total state gross domestic product — and handled 23 percent of all U.S. port tonnage annually. In total, the Texas coastal region accounts for roughly 24 percent of the state’s population, 23.5 percent of the state’s businesses, 26 percent of the state’s workforce, and brings in 29 percent of the state’s total annual average wages. The rest of the state’s residents and visitors also rely on the coast for the goods and services, recreation and quality of life that a strong and resilient coast provides.”

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