Cordilleran Section - 115th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 41-8
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-3:30 PM


LADE, Andrew John, Oregon State University, School of Public Policy, Corvallis, OR 97333

South Louisiana is losing land rapidly due to coastal erosion, and as the coast erodes, coastal communities become ever more susceptible to impacts from storm surges. A $50 billion coastal master plan is currently being implemented and is updated every 6 years. Past literature indicates that the dominant stories within a subsystem influence solutions to the problem (Hajer 1993, McBeth & Shanahan 2005, Schon & Rein 1994). The Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) provides a systematic approach to understanding the role of policy narratives. This research addresses the question: Why was there a shift in the coastal erosion narrative in Louisiana from a problem of canal excavation and sediment starvation in 1990 to solely a problem of sediment starvation in 1999?

The NPF defines policy narratives as including a setting, characters, plot, and moral. The setting in this study is the United States Capitol in 1990 and 1999 and all accompanying legal parameters, evidence, economic conditions, and norms. The characters, as identified by Colten (2017), are members of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries and members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and guest lecturers at the hearings. The plot is what happened in the hearings, what was said among committee members and guest lecturers. These committees shaped policy that formed and reauthorized the moral of the narrative, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA). Colten (2017) identifies a shift in the narrative between the House Committee meeting in 1990 and the Senate Committee meeting in 1999 from coastal erosion being caused by “levee building for flood protection and navigation and the extensive canal networks excavated for mineral extraction” to “sediment starvation and flood and storm protection [levees]” (705-6). The methods for this research are based on the methods of Smith-Walter et al. (2016).