Can the Corps really protect us?
By Allen Lottinger - Dec 02, 2009
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has had a lot of criticism of late, some deserved, some not so deserved.
The latest that is deserved is its announcement that it cannot replenish our eroding coastal wetlands with sediment that it dredges from the Mississippi River.
The Corps says it would be too expensive. Federal law requires it to be disposed of as cheaply as possible.
We’ve heard that story before. Years ago, the Corps maintained that it was only allowed to provide for better navigation along the Mississippi River. And in doing so, it dredged the river to allow better boat traffic and dumped the spoils out into the Gulf of Mexico beyond the continental shelf where it did our coast, or any other coast, no good.
We don’t blame the Corps for that guffaw. We blame the government for allowing such a narrow outlook that benefitted no one since it could have been dumped where it would serve the greatest coast in America.
We also cannot blame the Corps entirely for the debacle of building the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) which helped flood New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Though it ended up as a Corps project, there was a lot of promotion of it before it was built by state officials and Louisiana congressmen and senators pushing it through. Perhaps the Corps was responsible for not maintaining it in a way that it would not allow hurricane surges to come in and destroy the wetlands.
And now the Corps is at the helm of our coastal restoration efforts. And it is using only slightly more than 10 percent of sediment dredged from the river for navigation to save our wetlands. Is that logical?
Maybe our bureaucracy has grown too much to use logic in saving our coast. What has that to say about our logic in allowing the federal government so much say so in our proposed health care plans?
Someone in Washington should be smart enough to know that the sediment dredged from the Mississippi River is just what is needed to save our wetlands and an important part of their nation. If we could have that revelation, it could help save the coast of Louisiana.
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