Friday, November 07, 2008

Port Interests Trump All?

This headline article from the Times-Picayune illustrates the difficulty of maintaining governmental commitment to coastal restoration in spite of dire need and overwhelming nonpartisan public consensus.

The Breaux Act Task Force voted to close the West Bay diversion on the Mississippi River -- the most effective existing sediment diversion in fighting coastal erosion -- unless an alternative source of money is found to pay for dredging sediment from anchorages located just downriver.

The Army Corps of Engineers contends opening the diversion has resulted in sediment filling in anchorages -- essentially parking spots for boats -- used by as many as 30 ships near Pilottown at Head of Passes near the river's mouth.

I don't want to downplay the economic importance of our shipping industries, but give me a break.

They state is shutting down one of our most effective coastal restoration programs because of parking.

The diversions allow rich sediments to fertilize wetlands on the West Bay, promising 10,000 new acres over twenty years. I vividly recall Rising Tide III keynote speaker John Barry's explanation of the importance of sediment replacement for our region's natural hurricane barriers.

Now, shipping interests threaten to close the diversion or otherwise bankrupt future coastal restoration efforts by attempting to force them to foot the bill to dredge out the lost anchorages.

Read the article, local officials and advocates of wetlands restoration do not mince words about the danger of setting such an easy precedent for halting these critical projects.

At risk for shippers: a whopping thirty parking spaces.

At risk for the millions of residents of coastal Louisiana: Aw nuthin'

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