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Earth Science

Louisiana's Governor Declares State Of Emergency Over Disappearing Coastline (npr.org) 307

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency over the state's rapidly eroding coastline. From a report on NPR: It's an effort to bring nationwide attention to the issue and speed up the federal permitting process for coastal restoration projects. "Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence and rising sea levels have made the Louisiana coast the nation's most rapidly deteriorating shoreline," WWNO's Travis Lux tells our Newscast unit. "It loses the equivalent of one football field of land every hour." More than half of the state's population lives on the coast, the declaration states. It adds that the pace of erosion is getting faster: "more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone."
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Louisiana's Governor Declares State Of Emergency Over Disappearing Coastline

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  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:04PM (#54276803) Homepage Journal
    This area of LA....a large percentage of the US's seafood comes from here, and, a large portion of the US's domestic oil comes from the Gulf into LA, and processed here.

    Oil from all over the place is processed here.

    The people that work these jobs, live on the coast and the sealife that supports these folks and provides a good amount of seafood to the US will disappear if this coastal erosion is allowed to continue.

    This isn't just for the people of Louisiana, but for the great resources it provides the rest of the US.

    • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:15PM (#54276895) Homepage

      It's a shame more people don't realize this, as evidenced by the multiple posts on here suggesting that people need to relocate. I've lived all over the country, but I've spent the majority of my life here in Louisiana and I'd like to stay here.

      The majority of the folks affected by this live in areas such as Plaquemines, Terrebone, and Lafourche parishes aren't rich by any means.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      They were born here; to suggest that they just pack up and move is pretty short-sighted and somewhat insulting.

      The other part of this that's frustrating is that there isn't a simple engineering solution to fix this. The levee system, while keeping urban areas from flooding, prevents sediment build-up that would restore some of the coast line. Even nutria rats are partially responsible for the eroding coast.

      • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:27PM (#54276991)

        >They were born here; to suggest that they just pack up and move is pretty short-sighted and somewhat insulting.

        The White House no longer recognizes man's effect on climate, which means there's little hope of policy directed at mitigating man's effects on climate - and still probably none even if they acknowledge the climate is changing and are merely ignoring man's role.

        Beyond that, the White House already had very little control over other nations that are or likely will significantly affect climate going forward.

        So... we're not going to fix the problem any time soon. The ocean doesn't care where you were born, it doesn't decide where its rising levels will flood land.

        To suggest people pack up and move isn't insulting, it's unfortunately common sense given the circumstances.

        • which means there's little hope of policy directed at mitigating man's effects on climate

          Why? So they don't call it man-made climate change and they call it God-made climate change... either way, the water comes up and mitigation has to happen. In places with a lot of infrastructure investment, it can make sense to shore things up. In other places, as you say it makes more sense to relocate. But none of that has anything to do with what causes the climate to change.

          • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:48PM (#54277183)

            The denial of man's role is part of denying the change at all, because they're happy with the status quo. For some it's economics - they profit under the current system and alterations to reduce or fight the effects of climate change will reduce those profits, for some it's pure denial that the world could ever change.

            When the water's up around their ankles, they're scream bloody murder for levees, but that's about it. If it's somebody else up to their ankles they'll come up with some way to rationalize how it was always a risk and the climate hasn't actually changed, and how it's the fault of those who chose to live there.

            • When the water's up around their ankles, they're scream bloody murder for levees, but that's about it. If it's somebody else up to their ankles they'll come up with some way to rationalize how it was always a risk and the climate hasn't actually changed, and how it's the fault of those who chose to live there.

              OK, but how does that have anything to do with what is causing the climate change? As you say, no one can deny that things have changed once there are people standing around ankle deep in water. At that point they can choose to help those people or not, but this has nothing to do with their feelings on anthropomorphic climate change. A libertarian or small-government conservative who believes in climate science is still going to advocate for no assistance while a liberal or social conservative who denies cl

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            As I understand it, the biggest problem is NOT climate change or any other such disaster; the problem is human interference. They have channeled and canalled and levee'd and dredged the Mississippi output. The water -full of silt - that used to wash over the delta and deposit replacement dirt on the marshes and islands during heavy flow days (?) now is channeled along the river between high banks and well out to sea. The current delta is disappearing, but a few hundred years from now there might be a huge n

            • by Layzej ( 1976930 )

              As I understand it, the biggest problem is NOT climate change or any other such disaster; the problem is human interference. They have channeled and canalled and levee'd and dredged the Mississippi output. The water -full of silt - that used to wash over the delta and deposit replacement dirt on the marshes and islands during heavy flow days (?) now is channeled along the river between high banks and well out to sea.

              There are many factors. Sea level rise is one of them. As it is the one that is accelerating [skepticalscience.com], it is likely to play an ever increasing role.

        • by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:54PM (#54277243)

          This has nothing to do with climate. It has nothing to do with "rising sea levels". It has everything to do with 150 years of engineering the Mississippi river. That river flows an ungodly amount of water, and that water picks stuff up and drops it off. Every geographical feature in that area was (mostly) the result of a dynamic equilibrium between sediment deposits and erosion. We've changed the river, and now the land is adjusting to a new equilibrium.

          • Question: what would it take to get you to admit that measurably rising sea levels due to climate change is causing problems? We're losing goddamn Louisiana to it. Literally everyone who studies this stuff for a living agrees with this. No one seriously doubts it. But you'd rather blame some river hacking for literally submerging Louisiana.

            What are you going to blame when we lose Florida [nytimes.com]? Is there a convenient river there to point the finger at? What ungodly amount of river water is flowing through the So [scientificamerican.com]

            • According to NOAA (https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.html), sea level rise at Grand Isle LA averaged slightly over 9 mm/ year since 1947, and 9.65 mm/ year at Eugene Island LA. And 4.71 mm/ year at New Canal LA. (Those are the 3 locations on that graphic.) According to the wikipedia (attributed to an IPCC report), average global sea level rise in the 20th century is in the neighborhood of 1.8 mm/ year. Those are different time frames, but afaik the 20th century rise was more or less linear

        • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @01:23PM (#54277493)

          Beyond that, the White House already had very little control over other nations that are or likely will significantly affect climate going forward.

          Well, they could have supported a number of international accords aimed at reducing emissions.

      • It's a shame more people don't realize this, as evidenced by the multiple posts on here suggesting that people need to relocate. I've lived all over the country, but I've spent the majority of my life here in Louisiana and I'd like to stay here.

        That's your choice. Why should the rest of society subsidize your poor choices?

        They were born here; to suggest that they just pack up and move is pretty short-sighted and somewhat insulting.

        No, to suggest that they just pack up and move is common sense. The U.S. is a mighty big country. Just pick another location, and move. To continue living anywhere that continues to get battered by Mother Nature is just plain ignorant. Just because they think it's "home" is not a valid reason. Just because they were born there is not a valid reason. At some point in your life, you have to take responsibility for your actions. And

        • That's your choice. Why should the rest of society subsidize your poor choices?

          No, to suggest that they just pack up and move is common sense. The U.S. is a mighty big country. Just pick another location, and move. To continue living anywhere that continues to get battered by Mother Nature is just plain ignorant. Just because they think it's "home" is not a valid reason. Just because they were born there is not a valid reason. At some point in your life, you have to take responsibility for your actions. An

          • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @02:33PM (#54278137)

            So ironically, transporting the oil and gas out of the region is putting oil and gas production in jeopardy.

            That would seem to be yet another reason to transition this country away from fossil fuels altogether. That would address both the erosion issue and the fossil fuel dependence at the same time.

            As far as seafood goes, there's going to be a coastline somewhere, no matter how far it moves into the current state of Louisiana. The seafood will still come from wherever that is.

      • It's a shame more people don't realize this, as evidenced by the multiple posts on here suggesting that people need to relocate. I've lived all over the country, but I've spent the majority of my life here in Louisiana and I'd like to stay here.

        The majority of the folks affected by this live in areas such as Plaquemines, Terrebone, and Lafourche parishes aren't rich by any means. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] They were born here; to suggest that they just pack up and move is pretty short-sighted and somewhat insulting.

        The notion that people must be immune to relocation just because they "were born there" is an insult to human nature. Conditions change, Things go south, .Shit happens. People relocate, never to return. It's what humans do. It's what humans are meant to do.

    • Well, if the water is encroaching on the land, that won't affect the SEA LIFE now, will it? The ocean will still have fish in it.

      This sounds like a terrible ecological disaster, but maybe it's just an opportunity for the people who live on the coast to adapt to the situation. How about building modern FLOATING canneries and docks that can change with the environment. You can try to build a levee to hold back the water, but that will only work for so long.
      • The marshes on the coast are where the fish spend the first part of the their lives in relative safety before heading out to more open areas. When the incoming water destroys land it is removing the marshes and they are not being replaced so the sea life will be impacted as the young fish won't have as many protected areas to grow up in.

    • by JudgeFurious ( 455868 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @01:15PM (#54277441)
      No. No it won't. The people who work these jobs live on the coast and since the Gulf of Mexico has a rather long coast that stretches from, well "Mexico" all the way to the tip of Florida I'm sure somebody in this world is going to work these jobs and continue to live on the coast. For that matter if the coast moves inland how is that supposed to prevent people from living near the coast (You don't actually think all of these people live on the beach do you?). Yes, the existing coastline changes. It continues to change and will keep changing. Nothing is going to stop that from happening entirely but lots of people live near the coast in Louisiana and will never be affected by this to any great degree. Seafood doesn't even factor into this. "More" ocean is supposed to translate into less seafood? Seriously?
      • Seafood doesn't even factor into this. "More" ocean is supposed to translate into less seafood? Seriously?

        Actually it will.

        The brackish water of the marshes that is eroding...is a major part of the ecosystem of birth and lifecycle on a lot of fish that start there, breed there, but move more into the ocean. Oysters live on that edge between fresh and salt water....if you lose the marshes, you lose that wide area they can proliferate.

        There's also the bird population that depends on this area.

        So, no, it i

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      You do know don't you that land erosion isn't as much of a problem for the seafood as it is for us? I mean, they live in the water.

  • by Linsaran ( 728833 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:07PM (#54276827) Homepage
    And the Republicans insist climate change isn't real . . . well maybe when half the red leaning states are under water they'll open their eyes. Probably be way too late by that point though.
    • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:12PM (#54276873) Homepage
      And Republicans will insist that the federal government pick up the tab for fixing the problems that they made.
      • But what they'll tell the voters is that Canada is paying for it.
        • But what they'll tell the voters is that Canada is paying for it.

          Canada might actually be helping ... Sea Ice causes the Oceans to fall in level as it melts. Its Landlocked Ice (like Greenland) that causes levels to rise as it melts. Now, I don't know if anyone has done the math, Canada certainly has some of the latter going on as well ... I certainly haven't ... but maybe the melting in the Northwest Passage is giving it the Old College Try at least.

    • Yeah. The southern part of Louisiana are alluvial plains and swamps. If I'm not mistaken New Orleans is in the Mississippi delta. Hmmm. WTF does that mean?

      It means we shouldn't be fighting mother nature to keep the city going.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )

      nonsense.

      this situation with La. coastline has zero to do with climate change, even the "rising sea level" cited as reason is not valid.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      yes after giving the prime causes, even that article mentions that *lately* climate change is also given as reason....without citation of course. because it isn't relevant at all next to the primary factors

  • by beowulfcluster ( 603942 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:09PM (#54276857)
    But how many libraries of congress of land every hour is that?
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      But how many libraries of congress of land every hour is that?

      I never realised that they played that much football in Louisiana.

  • Reasons (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter&tedata,net,eg> on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:21PM (#54276947) Journal

    Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence and rising sea levels

    No, that's not why the delta's disappearing. Here are the reasons why [pri.org]:

    1) Levees and flood protections prevent silt from the Mississippi from depositing into the delta to maintain it, and
    2) Oil drilling required dredging up the delta to permit pipelines and shipping lanes, destroying wetlands that help capture and build-up the silt.

    • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Informative)

      by Elfich47 ( 703900 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:29PM (#54277011)
      If I can add to this:

      The delta used to shift and move the river bed quite often. With the canals and leeves in place the natural tendency of the river to move is being fought against. It is the reason why the river breaks out at odd places just up stream or downstream of existing leeves. Part of this is a result of the silt deposits that used to be carried downstream by the Mississippi.

      With the wetlands being destroyed the ocean barrier that helped protect against storms is being destroyed. Which exposed larger areas of the coast line to damage.
      • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:47PM (#54277149) Homepage Journal

        The problem with your explanation is that it's fact-based, and stands on good science. This is the post-truth era. Thus, the counter to your argument will be:

        • Evidence for a human cause of erosion is thin and controversial, and is being pushed by loony liberals.
        • We need those oil and shipping jobs, and jobs building and maintaining levees, not more regulation that stifles them!
        • Cause and effect is not a real thing, except for one cause, God is behind everything.
        • This is part of God's plan for us. The end time is coming, and when the Rapture arrives it will not matter that Louisiana's coast has eroded. Cease your pursuit of unholy science and pray to save your soul!
        • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @01:18PM (#54277469) Journal

          Query: Why would those arguments even exist, considering that the vast majority of the levees, dams, and canals we have today were built during the Great Depression as jobs programs, viz the WPA. Last I checked, these programs was spawned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and LA's governor at the time (who happily agreed) was the infamous Huey Long... neither of whom were members of the party you seek to demonize.

          Maybe it would benefit you to realize that the problems in TFA were caused by misguided engineering efforts held throughout the first half of the 20th century?

          • Oh, of course they were caused by misguided engineering efforts. Everything from the Army Corps of Engineers to Smoky Bear goes under that heading. The most basic problem is the fact that we locate cities next to resources and transportation, which means water, without realizing where the 400-year flood plane is. Etc. We have learned something since then.

            Our problem, today, is fixing these things. Which is blocked by folks who don't believe in anthropogenic climate change, or even cause and effect at all. T

            • by green1 ( 322787 )

              We have learned something since then.

              I'd love to think you're right, but I just can't.

              We see it over and over again, in many places the oldest parts of the city is fine but the newer parts are the problem, 150+ years ago the people settling areas often looked at the terrain before building and built on hills, but since then we gave up and decided that riverfront was a selling feature instead of a hazard.

              A few years ago we had major flooding here, the original historic properties (first houses in a city founded at the junction of 2 rivers) were

              • What you are observing is economics. As a city or town population grows, the best land becomes unavailable and those who arrive later or have less funds available must settle for less desirable land. Thus many cities have been extended using landfill which liquifies as the San Francisco Marina District did in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, or floods. Risks may not be disclosed by developers, or may be discounted by authorities as the risks of global warming are today.

                Efforts to protect people who might

                • by green1 ( 322787 )

                  But again, the most expensive land is what you just called "less desirable". It seems in fact that the floodplain land in most cities is the most expensive, not the least. People WANT to live beside the water, even though it's a horrible idea. The most expensive properties in my city tend to have a river running through their backyard, they're also the first to flood. So every time they flood, the government pays out millions of dollars in disaster relief to the richest people in town.

                  You can hardly say tha

          • Or maybe the problem started back then but as time has progressed the problem has gotten worse as the protection provided by thousands of years of silt has been washed away and climate change has raised sea levels? There used to be sand bars protecting the coastline so not as much would have been taken away but without the silt from the river over these past 80 years the sandbars have gone. If the engineering efforts of the past decade or so were to blame there would be still more protection and the loss o

      • Articles:

        http://www.newyorker.com/magaz... [newyorker.com]

        https://placesjournal.org/arti... [placesjournal.org]

        good quotes:

        Society requires artifice to survive in a region where nature might reasonably have asked a few more eons to finish a work of creation that was incomplete - Albert Cowdrey

        This nation has a large and powerful adversary. Our opponent could cause the United States to lose nearly all her seaborne commerce, to lose her standing as first among trading nations. . . .We are fighting Mother Nature. . . .It's a battle we have to fi

    • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Informative)

      by d34thm0nk3y ( 653414 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:45PM (#54277127)
      From your link:

      "So we're fighting this massive loss of surface land [and] we're also subsiding because we're not replenishing these wetlands," Marshall says. "On top of that, here comes global warming and sea level rise." According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, southern Louisiana has "the highest rate of relative sea level rise of any place in the country, and one of the highest rates anywhere on the planet."
    • Can I ask why you left off the third reason that the article you link to very clearly explains: sea level rise?

      "All of this results from three processes that reinforce and amplify each other’s effects: levee construction, oil and gas exploration and sea level rise."
      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        because the amount of sea level rise to date is minuscule by comparison to those other reasons and can't be taken seriously as a cause of this issue.

  • So the maths (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 )

    seem to indicate that Louisiana is losing 3300 acres a year to the Gulf. about 5 square miles.

    Plaquemines Parish is about 780 square miles, so if all loss were in Plaquemines, it would be losing about 0.6% per year land mass. Of course the loss is spread amongst 9 or more parishes, probably 10x the area total, the loss then becoming more like 0.06% per year.

    This, my friends, is a Democrat emergency.

    Mind you, this is an emergency to any family who used to live on land claimed by the Gulf, but not many do, as

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone."

      In the first case that's 1800 sq miles over 78 years or 23 sq miles per year.

      In the second case that's 300 sq miles over 4 years or 75 sq miles per year.

      Whichever number you use (and if you include the year in the range, so the numbers may be +/- 1 year) it's still greater than 5 sq miles per year.

  • At the current rate of carbon emissions pumping energy into storms and glacial melt in Greenland, along with sad attempts to stop flood plains from renewing decaying soil mass by siltration deposit of alluvial soils, four fifths of Lousiana will be under water for part of the year.

    Look, flood plains are supposed to flood. Stopping the river deposits is why it's getting worse. Destroying the biomass buildup from salt infiltration from Gulf storms.

    Florida is way worse off, quite frankly. And it's all the faul

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @01:15PM (#54277443) Journal
    CNN has a similar article [cnn.com] about disappearing Louisiana coastline. One of the people interviewed has been shrimping for 54 years. His best comment, "It doesn't concern me.What is science? Science is an educated guess," Dotson says defiantly. "What if they guess wrong? There's just as much chance as them to be wrong as there is for them to be right."

    Mind you, Louisiana is the top most uneducated state in the nation and this particular area of Louisiana, Cameron county, has the highest percentage of people who do not believe climate change has an effect on plants or animals. Not man-made climate change, but any climate change.

    Another person in the article says he likes his AC and gas at reasonable prices so therefore, why, based on a prediction alone, should humans try to limit CO2 production?
    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      The fact is that many people have dearly held religious beliefs. These beliefs are held with a bond that is far more than any combination of logic or emotion; such conviction in any human is not to be trifled with.

      You can't attack people on such a personal, intimate, foundational level and expect people to follow you, or your ideas.

      Unfortunately, for decades, many claiming to represent science have been loudly proclaiming (without evidence, as it's unprovable either way) that "science" says that religion, a

  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @01:37PM (#54277621)

    From a 2005 post https://pesn.com/archive/2005/... [pesn.com]

    Summary... the City of New Orleans is sinking, and sliding off the continental shelf. It's doomed even if sea levels did *NOT* rise.

    > The river is moving away from the city. The city is sinking because of its
    > weight, because no upbuilding by new muck for many decades, because of
    > being cut off from the fresh water, because it is sliding off a cliff (the Continental Shelf),
    > and because the Oil and Gas Industry is extracting oil out from under it.
    > It is a city that for all intents and purposes is now Sea domain.

    And, oh yeah, the very fact that ships can navigate from the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River is an anthropogenic artifact.

    > To understand the City of New Orleans one must first understand the
    > massive Mississippi River delta. New Orleans was built at the site of the old
    > "French Quarter" on the high ground adjacent to the Mississippi river.
    > This location was picked because the Mississippi River didn't have a mouth
    > into the ocean. The river simply went into the "Black Swamp" and disappeared.
    > This was where ships headed down river had to stop and unload their
    > goods to be transshipped across Lake Pontchartrain to the sea. This was
    > done by unloading the goods at the docks and then hauling them to the
    > lake where shallow draft boats would take the goods to the seagoing ships.
    >
    > By using some ingenious methods, Henry Shreve -- after whom
    > Shreveport, La., is named -- forced the river to dig its own channel out to
    > the sea where it now goes. This allowed the ocean-going boats access to
    > the enormous Mississippi river. This, together with the work of the US Army
    > Corps of Engineers, produced what is functionally the largest ocean port on earth.

  • Out in California, during the drought, a lot of water was pumped from underground. This ended up in lowering the ground level. Maybe the oil and gas industry are doing the same in LA?
  • by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @01:58PM (#54277823)

    Louisiana consistently elects small-government, anti-EPA, anti-climate Representatives and Senators. Now they want an environmental conservation bailout? They decry federal handouts, and then they turn around begging for help. How about "No".

    They cite:

    "Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence and rising sea levels"

    Yet, they ousted their only politician who even pretended to care about the environment and replaced her with Cassidy, whose policies will only hasten that outcome [senate.gov].

    New Orleans couldn't be arsed to maintain their levees, then Hurricane Katrina happened. Now this. Louisiana should change their motto to "The No Foresight State".

  • I've long mused that despite the climate deniers howls, at some point we're going to hit an impasse. Due to historical reasons, we'll save New Orleans and other big name towns on the gulf coast in regions that sit at or below the water line.

    However, if you're from some town nobody's ever heard of that's on the coast, you're pretty much fucked. If we believe the models and so far they've been spot on, every year some percentage of these towns are going to get flooded and/or walloped by hurricanes.

    Each year the federal government and insurance agencies swoop in (for some value of swooping) and rebuild these towns. At some point insurance companies are going to cry uncle. They'll boost rates so high that literally nobody will be able to afford to rebuild. I could even see a situation where after a federal government has to step in and say "We're moving your entire community 50 miles in land and combining it with this other community" Why? Money and resources. At some point as wasteful as the government is, they're going to see the folly of rebuilding a town over and over and as the tide rises it's going to become less and less financially tenantable and take more and more resources.
  • Where Louisiana is going to come up against the biggest hurdle isn't it's own particular issue, but the problem with regard to the entire Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf, and to perhaps a lesser extent, but just as fraught with pitfalls, the West Coast.

    This scares the living daylights out of the White House and Congress, because anything they do in Louisiana will be under a huge microscope, will set perhaps irreversible precedents, and is going to have other states lining up for the same treatment.

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