Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Orleans: Death by Environmentalism

Preventing the disastrous flood in New Orleans would have required a massive construction project necessitating many years to complete. Recent cuts in the Corps of Engineers budget had nothing to do with the disaster. Even if funded by the Bush administration, the work could not have been completed in time, nor would the planned levee measures have been adequate. However, the enormous damage and loss of life that occurred could have been prevented but for environmentalists who successfully blocked other flood protection measures for over two decades. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Barrier Project proposed to build fortifications at two strategic locations to keep massive storms on the Gulf of Mexico from causing Lake Pontchartrain to flood the city. The New Orleans Times-Picayune May 28, 2005 stated, “Under the original plan, floodgate-type structures would have been built at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes to block storm surges from moving from the Gulf into Lake Pontchartrain.” At a minimum, the plan would have greatly reduced the scale of the disaster.

But, “Those plans were abandoned after environmental advocates successfully sued to stop the projects as too damaging to the wetlands and the lake's eco-system,” said the Times-Picayune. An environmental group, Save Our Wetlands (SOWL) sued to have the court block the project. On December 30, 1977, U.S. District Judge Charles Schwartz Jr. issued an injunction, saying that because of the environmental impacts “all persons in this area, will be irreparably harmed if the barrier project based upon the August, 1974 FEIS [federal environmental impact statement] is allowed to continue.” So the project was aborted in favor of building up existing levees. The levee program as contemplated would have been effective only against a level three hurricane, not a level five storm such as Katrina.

There can be no question that the environment that Judge Schwartz was so concerned about protecting is much worse for his judicial action—to say nothing of the loss of life, personal hardship, and damage to property from the flood. Katrina pushed Lake Pontchartrain over the flood walls, and the water undermined and toppled them. The flood water then mixed with sewage and other pollutants and left a layer of sludge over the whole area—the precious wetlands as well as everything else. Even without the hurricane, the levee program was bad for the wetlands. Ivor van Heerden, Deputy Director of the Lousiana State University Hurricane Center and Director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts by Hurricanes said, “The levees have literally starved our wetlands to death by directing all of that precious silt out into the Gulf of Mexico.”

The lesson: valuing the environment ahead of people is bad for both in the long run. People must come first. The human rights of some people must not be sacrificed to the special interests of advocacy groups, whether for the environment or any other high-sounding cause.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an attorney in the U.S., I deal with environmental laws including criminal charges.

As I write this, I am about to speak at the Hague to a Netherlands political party about environmental laws and the Florida Everglades. Most of North Holland is man-made land reclaimed from the North Sea. I advocate land reclamation in Florida Bay to expand the Everglades.

A proposed modification of Florida's specialty license plate touts the libertarian solution to save the Everglades:

Everglades land reclamation will create more aquifer, swamps, marshes, wetlands, beaches, farmland and buildable areas for bigger populations. The land will be untouched by phosphorus. It will solve saltwater intrusion by pushing saltwater farther out. It could double the size of the Everglades.

The project could start in the northeast of Florida Bay, and progress in a west/southwest direction along the Everglades National Park’s land boundary. The new Everglades could be bigger than Rhode Island. It could be the 51st state. It could be called "New Florida." If the new land is a free port it could make Hong Kong look like an overregulated socialist haven! The new everglades could extend even farther than Key West.

My ancestors helped settle Key West and the Curry Mansion is still on the local tour. Nearby, Smathers Beach is a man-made beach, and one of Florida’s top ten. As a sixth generation Floridian and a lifelong resident, I treasure Florida’s environment.

Waterfront property would remain waterfront with space left between old owners and new land. The project could leave many waterways, including a cross-state waterway along the present southern border of Florida.

One key to success will be to keep government out. Much of Florida Bay is part of the Everglades National Park, so the Bay needs to be privatized. Much Florida water is socialized and Florida land is 30 percent socialized (government-owned). All freedom is founded on the private ownership of property.

The former U.S.S.R., East Europe, and China prove that socialism is environmentally disastrous. The Everglades prove that socialism is environmentally disastrous for Florida. Government built roads through the Everglades, straightened rivers, drained wetlands, cut canals, and subsidized cattle and sugar with taxes and other socialism. The government has already done more damage than private enterprise could ever have afforded to do.

Government’s restoration plans are costly frauds. Instead of restoration plans, the Everglades need capitalist expansion plans. Let’s fight the government’s antidisestablishmentarianism.

The best environment is a capitalist environment. The Everglades prove that the color of a healthy environment and the color of money are the same. Mother Nature is a capitalist. Capitalists are the true greens.

Everglades land reclamation should be entirely private. Private water suppliers, developers, agriculture and everyone else will benefit. Holland's land reclamation started as private enterprise. Sell the Everglades. So, let’s go Dutch.