Thursday, October 16th
LOUISIANA-THEY’RE GOIN’ TO
WASH US AWAY!
On a family vacation, our trip ended up in Boston.
The newspaper headlines were startling.
Sinking into The Sea
” blared the New York Times.
Could Become the Next Venice
lamented the Boston Globe.
released report by the Urban Land Institute predicted that “Boston is sinking
at a rate of more than a tenth of an inch a year.”
The Governor of Massachusetts has set up a
statewide strategy commission and earmarked $50 million out find out how to
save the city from drowning.
panic up in Boston.
An inch a year?
of south Louisiana are sinking at a rate ten times faster than Boston.
Public officials throughout the Bayou State have
known about the continuing and growing losses for decades.
There have been numerous studies done, but
that’s about it. And as each year passes by, the price tag continues to
Twenty-five years ago, the cost of major damage mitigation
was pegged at $14 million.
There was the
assumption that significant federal help would be available.
After all, the nation has bountifully
benefited from the reaping or the state’s natural resources, from oil and gas,
seafood, sulfur, and the largest chemical suppliers in the country.
And Louisiana’s congressional delegation had
repeatedly ballyhooed to voters how strong their political sway was in
But the dollars never materialized.
And now the price tag has skyrocketed.
State officials throw out a current cost of
some $50 billion.
But a number of
scientists, who often have been left out of any solution discussions, say this
figure is drastically low. A minimum of $100 billion or higher would be more in
So while Louisiana state agencies have dawdled in uniting
behind one cohesive master plan, competition for federal dollars has increased
Florida is lobbying for
appropriations to save their everglades.
The cost is slightly less than what Louisiana says it needs.
Boston is now in the mix as well as a number
of other cities along the east coast.
Hurricane Sandy showed the vulnerability of New York, and at risk are
large swathes of land along the New Jersey shore. All these areas are now in
completion for federal funds at a time when federal deficits make it unlikely
that such dollars will be forthcoming.
So what can be done to stop the sinking?
Parts of south Louisiana, primarily around
Terrebonne Parish, are proposing a seawall around the more populated areas, similar
to the current flood protection around the greater New Orleans area. The problem
with such a plan is that many parts of south Louisiana will be left out.
Basically, those proposing such a plan are
Those scientists who have studied this problem for years,
and who are rarely consulted by state officials, say the state has to go on
Their plan, and in their
opinion the only plan that has any chance of long-term success, is a massive
sediment diversion on the lower Mississippi river.
Diversion canals would be built with dams and
other outflow structures to flood low lying areas that would be covered, over
time, with new sediment from the river.
This too would be expensive, but many feel, and I’m beginning to agree,
that this could be the only viable long-range solution.
So how do you pay for such a project?
In a number of ways.
Hopefully, a BP damage settlement should
bring in five to seven billion dollars.
That’s a start. After years of state officials turning a blind eye to
oil company environmental damage, a south Louisiana level board has filed suite
to hold the oil industry accountable.
guess is that the industry knows it has massive exposure, and that some
settlement with the state will come about.
The dollars should be in the multi-billions and could help in kick
starting a major land recovery effort.
Then there is an old idea that seems to be gaining new
momentum, and that’s a CWEL tax on new energy production.
Governor Dave Treen, a republican, came up
with the idea in 1982.
Wetlands Environmental Levy would be a “go forward” tax on oil and gas
production to mitigate future damage.
These three funding sources would give the state a fighting
chance to stem the land erosion.
some foreign country would come into the U.S. and seize thousands of American
acres? We would immediately go to war.
Well, we are at war with nature.
If we don’t win, than Randy Newman’s song prophecy will surely take
“Louisiana-they’re goin’ to wash us away.”
Jim Brown’s syndicated column
appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites
worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates
at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s
nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am,
central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.