NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 13, 2005

According to a May 28 story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, an environmental group successfully sued to stop a project that the Army Corps of Engineers proposed to hold back the surge that spilled into the city on Sept. 5. The corps' plan was to use floodgates to keep water from the Gulf of Mexico from pouring into Lake Pontchartrain on the city's north side.

Save Our Wetlands, the environmental group that successfully sued in 1977, claimed the series of floodgates proposed by the corps would spoil wetlands. So the corps gave up and went on to other projects. But last year it decided to look again at building structures that would keep the Gulf from gushing into the lake, this time with an eye on more environmentally sensitive construction.

When will the next storm with the fury of Katrina crash into the Big Easy? Maybe 100 years from now. Maybe next month. According to Investor's Business Daily (IBD), this much is certain:

  • Structures that will protect New Orleans from a category 5 storm need to be planned and built as soon as possible.
  • They also need to be protected from environmental zealots who cannot be allowed to derail -- or even delay -- another project.
  • Perhaps the best way to block them is for Congress to exempt such a project from environmental regulations and shield it from lawsuits.
  • While Washington gets the project moving, Louisiana lawmakers should do the same at the state level.

Wetlands and fragile ecosystems are important. But in circumstances like the one in which the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama find themselves, protecting them is a luxury. On the other hand, protecting human lives and their critical habitats - them cities - is a necessity, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "The Green Wave," Investor's Business Daily, September 13, 2005.


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