American Samizdat

Wednesday, January 31, 2007. *
McCain: On a more serious note, how did environmentalists contribute to the disaster in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina?

John Berlau: They blocked the building of large steel and concrete floodgates around Lake Pontchartrain that the Corps of Engineers, the ... state congressional delegation, and the New Orleans levee board had all endorsed as being able to provide the best protection against storm surge from hurricanes. The gates were similar to the folding "seagates" that were being built, and now have been built, in the Netherlands that only close during North Sea storms. Like those, these gates would have only closed during severe storms -- blocking water from getting into Lake Pontchartrain and flooding New Orleans. Renowned hurricane experts say these gates would have likely prevented most of Katrina's devastation in New Orleans. But the Environmental Defense Fund (now Environmental Defense) and the Louisiana group Save Our Wetlands persuaded a federal judge to halt the gates in 1977 because of the alleged damage they could do to fish, even though the project had already been granted a thumbs-up in a review from the Environmental Protection Agency.

[Interview continues at link. The moral I get from this is we cannot predict all of the outcomes of our decisions, thus much 'good guy / bad guy' style politics are likely mistaken.]


posted by Trevor Blake at 8:58 AM
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