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Re: [greenyes] Katrina Blame Game

The Clarion-Ledger¹s (Jackson, Mississippi) article has really made the
rounds. It, along with a piece in the good old National Review stimulated a
nice synopsis at on Friday

Not sure non-members can access though. If not, you might try my blog,
<>. I did a write up this weekend on some of
the stuff I¹ve come across along these same lines. There¹s a John McPhee
excerpt published in the New Yorker that I point to.


on 9/16/05 9:05 PM, amy perlmutter at amyperl@no.address wrote:

>  anyone know where the clarion-ledger is based?
> E-mail Suggests Government Seeking to Blame Groups
>     By Jerry Mitchell
>     The Clarion-Ledger
>     Friday 16 September 2005
>     Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New
> Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.
>     The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the US
> Department of Justice sent out this week to various US attorneys' offices:
> "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (US) 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."
>     Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said Thursday
> she couldn't comment "because it's an internal e-mail."
>     Shown a copy of the e-mail, David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra
> Club, remarked, "Why are they (Bush administration officials) trying to smear
> us like this?"
>     The Sierra Club and other environmental groups had nothing to do with the
> flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina that killed hundreds, he said.
> "It's unfortunate that the Bush administration is trying to shift the blame to
> environmental groups. It doesn't surprise me at all."
>     Federal officials say the e-mail was prompted by a congressional inquiry
> but wouldn't comment further.
>     Whoever is behind the e-mail may have spotted the Sept. 8 issue of
> National Review Online that chastised the Sierra Club and other environmental
> groups for suing to halt the corps' 1996 plan to raise and fortify 303 miles
> of Mississippi River levees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.
>     The corps settled the litigation in 1997, agreeing to hold off on some
> work until an environmental impact could be completed. The National Review
> article concluded: "Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke
> in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain."
>     The problem with that conclusion?
>     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.
>     When Katrina struck, the hurricane pushed tons of water from the Gulf of
> Mexico into Lake Pontchartrain, which borders the city to the north. Corps
> officials say the water from the lake cleared the levees by 3 feet. It was
> those floodwaters, they say, that caused the levees to degrade until they
> ruptured, causing 80 percent of New Orleans to flood.
>     Bookbinder said the purpose of the litigation by the Sierra Club and
> others in 1996 was where the corps got the dirt for the project. "We had no
> objections to levees," he said. "We said, 'Just don't dig film materials out
> of the wetlands. Get the dirt from somewhere else.'"
>     If you listen to what some conservatives say about environmentalists, he
> said, "We're responsible for most of the world's ills."
>     In 1977, the corps wanted to build a 25-mile-long barrier and gate system
> to protect New Orleans on the east side. Both environmental groups and
> fishermen opposed the project, saying it would choke off water into Lake
> Pontchartrain.
>     After litigation, corps officials abandoned the idea, deciding instead to
> build higher levees. "They came up with a cheaper alternative," Bookbinder
> said. "We didn't object to raising the levees."
>     John Hall, a spokesman for the corps in New Orleans, said the barrier the
> corps was proposing in the 1970s would only stand up to a weak Category 3
> hurricane, not a Category 4 hurricane like Katrina. "How much that would have
> prevented anything, I'm not sure," he said.
>     Since 1999, corps officials have studied the concept of building huge
> floodgates to prevent flooding in New Orleans from a Category 4 or 5
> hurricane.
>     Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2001 listed a
> hurricane striking New Orleans as one of the top three catastrophic events the
> nation could face (the others being a terrorist attack on New York City and an
> earthquake in San Francisco), funding for corps projects aimed at curbing
> flooding in southeast Louisiana lagged.
>     US Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, has said the White House cut $400 million
> from corps' requests for flood control money in the area.
>     In fiscal 2006, the corps had hoped to receive up to $10 million in
> funding for a six-year feasibility study on such floodgates. According to a
> recent estimate, the project would take 10 years to build and cost $2.5
> billion.
>     "Our understanding is the locals would like to go to that," Hall said. "If
> I were local, I'd want it."

David Biddle, Executive Director

P.O. Box 4037
Philadelphia, PA 19118
215-432-8225 (mobile)


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