The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources develops and enforces policies and regulations relating to the consumption and conservation of natural resources in the state.
The mission of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) is to ensure and promote sustainable and responsible use of the natural resources of the state so that they are available for the enjoyment and benefit of Louisiana’s citizens now and in the future. LDNR additionally works to preserve and enhance the nonrenewable natural resources (oil, gas, and minerals) of the state through conservation, regulation, management and development in order to ensure that Louisiana realizes appropriate economic benefits from its asset base. The LDNR also exercises regulatory and permitting functions through the Office of Coastal Management (OCM) and the Office of Conservation. The OCM is the agency responsible for the conservation, protection, and management of Louisiana’s coastal resources. It regulates the exploration and production of oil, gas and other hydrocarbons; controls and allocates energy supplies and distribution; and protects public safety and the environment from oil field waste, including through the regulation of underground injection and disposal practices.
Partnership is essential to the successful delivery of LDNR’s mission. Partnerships are established with federal, state and local public and non-governmental agencies. For example, the OCM coordinates with various federal and state task forces, other federal and state agencies, the office of the Governor, the public, the Louisiana Legislature, and the Louisiana Congressional Delegation on matters relating to the protection, conservation, enhancement, and management of Louisiana’s coastal resources.
The Interagency Affairs & Field Services Division of the LDNR is in charge of implementing the Louisiana Coastal Resources Program (LCRP) under authority of the State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act, as amended (Act 361, La. R.S. 49:214.21 et seq). This law seeks to protect, develop, and, where feasible, restore or enhance the resources of the state’s coastal zone. Besides striving to balance conservation and resources, the guidelines and policies of the LCRP also help to resolve user conflicts, encourage coastal zone recreational opportunities, and determine the future course of coastal development and conservation. To ensure compliance with the LCRP through enforcement and federal consistency, the Interagency Affairs & Field Services Division provides the Permits/Mitigation Division with field reports on Coastal Use Permits. It supports coastal parishes in implementing approved Local Coastal Programs (LCPs). As of 2012, ten coastal parishes, including Calcasieu, Cameron, Lafourche, Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. James, St. Tammany, and Terrebonne, have approved and active LCPs, and two parishes, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist, are developing the LCPs. The Division also establishes programs pertaining to the acquisition of coastal and estuarine lands, compensation of commercial fisherman, reduction of coastal nonpoint source pollution, and coastal community resilience.
The Interagency Affairs & Field Services Division is also the state lead coastal management agency for the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP). The Program, established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2002, seeks to protect coastal and estuarine lands considered important for their ecological, conservation, recreational, historical or aesthetic value. The CELCP provides state and local governments with matching funds to purchase significant coastal and estuarine lands, or conservation easements on such lands, from willing sellers.
In partnership with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and other governmental and non-governmental agencies, the LDNR is implementing the Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program (CNPCP), aimed at educating Louisiana coastal users about best available management measures and how to reduce pollutants that may impact Louisiana’s coastal waters.
Furthermore, LDNR oversees the management of the state master plan for the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System. The Atchafalaya Basin Program (ABP) coordinates the development and implementation of a cooperative plan for the Atchafalaya Basin that provides recreation opportunities to the public, while at the same time protecting its unique value. DNR, the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the basin parishes work together to create projects by establishing cooperative endeavors or agreements that protect and enhance the basin. Several other state agencies, like the Departments of Wildlife and Fisheries and Culture, Recreation and Tourism, also work to establish projects aimed at enhancing the basin.
Other activities related to the sustainable development of coastal resources carried out by the LDNR are the planning, response, and Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) activities resulting from oil spill incidents that occur in the Louisiana Coastal Zone. Biological field investigations and monitoring activities within the LA Coastal Zone are conducted to ensure and maintain compliance with the LA State and Local Coastal Resources Act 361, among others.