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Press Release - 9/20/2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2006
Media Contact:
Tiffany Reynolds - 202.387.8550
Marmillion + Company
tr@mcopr.com

Women of the Storm Return to Capitol Hill
130+ Louisiana Women Make Urgent Call on Congress to Save National Asset

Washington DC - Calling on Congress to secure a prime national asset before it is destroyed, a group of women leaders brought their case for saving coastal Louisiana to Capitol Hill today.  
 
Just four days before the first anniversary of Hurricane Rita and eight months following their first appeal, more than 130 Women of the Storm members, whose families, businesses and lives were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, returned to Washington, DC, to invite Members of Congress to visit Louisiana’s ravaged Gulf Coast and to thank those who have already visited. Appealing to 45 U.S. Senators and 329 U.S. Representatives who have not yet seen first-hand the challenges the region still faces, the women say their cause is tied to the national interest.
 
“Our message is a simple one,” said Anne Milling, Founder of Women of the Storm. “Louisiana feeds and fuels the nation - and we are washing away.
 
“According to pre-Katrina statistics, the federal government receives about $7.5 billion in OCS revenue - second only to IRS income, of which approximately $5 billion comes from Louisiana waters,” said Milling. The region is also rich in its seafood harvest, providing 30% of the landed seafood in the U.S. lower forty-eight states.
 
 “Our state and other oil-and-gas producing states along the Gulf of Mexico, which we refer to as America’s Energy Coast, receive very little, if any, of this money. These revenues are critical to saving and restoring Louisiana’s coast, a vast landscape known as America’s WETLAND,” continued Milling.
 
 “We are here today to encourage America’s Congressional leaders to visit New Orleans and areas of Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.” “This is not an appeal based on trying to court special favor, but an urgent request to walk in our footsteps and to experience what the worst disaster in U.S. history means - to experience what the lens cannot reveal, what the auditor cannot calculate and what the heart cannot feel without setting foot on the ground and touching the people,” said Milling.
 
After hosting a press conference on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol with Members of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation, the Women of the Storm, in teams of two, met with individual Members of Congress not only to invite them to visit Louisiana but also to discuss the urgent need for OCS revenue sharing as a steady source of funding for coastal protection and restoration that is tied to domestic energy security.
 
Throughout their trip to Washington, the Women of the Storm conveyed the following messages:

• The situation is urgent.  Over 200 square miles of important wetlands eroded as the result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita adding to the equivalent loss of a football field of land every 38 minutes.  Funding for coastal protection measures should precede in a manner that fast tracks action before it is too late to restore this highly productive coast.  The cost to the nation will continue to grow out of control if we do not take immediate action.

• Louisiana and other Gulf Coast energy producing states are impacted by the development of oil and gas resources off their coasts that serve to support the national economy.  These impacts include infrastructural, human services delivery and environmental.

• The most important real estate in the nation, in terms of domestic energy security, is at risk. Paying now for restoration and protection will avoid the need to pay much more later.

• It is critical that the federal government provide a steady stream of funds now and adequate funding through a continuous sharing of outer continental shelf (OCS) revenues for coastal protection and restoration. OCS revenues make sense because they provide the ongoing, long-term source of revenues needed to protect critical American energy and economic assets.
 
Milling called on Congress to take politics out of the discussion, noting that it is not the energy producing states who are the problem but a massive loss of American real estate caused by coastal erosion that is the culprit. She noted that since the group’s first visit to Capitol Hill in January of this year, the State of Louisiana has moved to amend its constitution ensuring that funds coming into the state will be held in a trust fund dedicated exclusively for coastal protection and restoration.
 

Currently, Louisiana’s land loss threatens the vitality of American commerce in the Gulf region, oil and gas production and commercial fisheries.  The habitat for 79 rare and endangered species and millions of migratory birds is also fragile due to massive land loss.

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Women of the Storm is a non-partisan, non-political alliance of Louisiana women whose families, businesses and lives were changed forever by the hurricanes. Members are culturally, socially and economically diverse and are bound by their passion for their communities and the need for the elected leadership of this country to respond to the urgent needs of the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Women of the Storm is in partnership with America’s WETLAND: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana.
 
For more information, please visit www.womenofthestorm.net.


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