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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-17-05 03:06 PM
Original message
Did lawsuits stall levee upgrades?
Associated Press

WASHINGTON The Justice Department is seeking information about whether lawsuits by environmental groups hindered efforts to improve New Orleans levees, an effort the Sierra Club and Democratic lawmakers say is aimed at shifting blame for the massive flooding.
The request to federal prosecutors, sent in an e-mail earlier this week, followed harsh criticism of the Bush administration for its initial response to Hurricane Katrina and the breach in New Orleans' levees that sent floodwaters from Lake Pontchartrain pouring into the city.

"Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps' work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation," said the communication, which was read to The Associated Press on Friday by Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

David Bookbinder, Sierra Club senior attorney, said the administration "is more interested in building a case to deflect blame than actually underscore what went wrong before, during and after the crisis." <snip>

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NorCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-17-05 03:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. Yes,
environmental lawsuits stalled levee building but it was only because the companies contracted to build the levees and the Army Corps of Engineer refused to follow the law as it was written at that time and draw up environmental impact reports of their planned construction.

If they had been willing to do so, things would have proceeded smoothly!
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PatsFan2004 Donating Member (245 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-17-05 03:13 PM
Response to Original message
2. A Johnson administration project was derailed due to a flawed
environmental impact statement. The project was eventually abandoned by the Army Corp of Engineers. This information came from the LA Times recently.
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ThoughtCriminal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-17-05 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
3. Wrong levees
Edited on Sat Sep-17-05 04:08 PM by ThoughtCriminal
In fact, some factions on the right have already blamed environmentalists for the levee failures in New Orleans. In particular, they point to a suit filed to halt an Army Corps of Engineers' 1996 plan to raise and fortify more than 300 miles of Mississippi River levees with fill from surrounding wetlands. But as Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger points out, "The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city."

Now - let's take a look at what was happening at the Industrial canal
Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had already launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a huge new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic.

Except that barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing.
Environmentalists and taxpayer advocates flagged the project as a major boondoggle and residents of a low-income black neighborhood in New Orleans even sued the Corps. Grunwald reports:
Pam Dashiell, president of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, remembers holding a protest against the lock four years ago -- right where the levee broke Aug. 30. Now she's holed up with her family in a St. Louis hotel, and her neighborhood is underwater. "Our politicians never cared half as much about protecting us as they cared about pork," Dashiell said.

On edit: I should also note that this was NOT a flood control project, and one of the reasons that the Holy Cross neighborhood objected was that the project could INCREASE the risk of flooding and marine accidents.


And if they REALLY want to tale about enviromentalists, let's talk about wetland destruction and storm surge:,16441,1561356,00.html

"The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly has contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands around New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush promised a "no net loss" wetland policy, which had been launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed the approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The army corps of engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce. In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a study that concluded in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary - much less a category four or five - hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's council on environmental quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable", and boasted: "Everybody loves what we're doing."
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-17-05 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. !
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-18-05 07:11 AM
Response to Original message
5. It's all the fault of the TRIAL LAWYERS!
I knew it!

If you look real hard, you can always find a handy scapegoat. Just as long as Our Wise and Courageous Leader's brow is uncreased by concern.

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