Saturday, November 08, 2008

This is not right

From the Times Pic:

Because some shippers are worried
about losing an area where "parking spots" used by as many as 30 ships near Pilottown at Head of Passes near the river's mouth, the most effective existing sediment diversion in fighting coastal erosion may become bankrupt. Pilottown as a base for river pilots to guide ships across the bar and up and down the Mississippi River. It is located a few miles above Head of Passes, the point considered to be the mouth of the Mississippi River. Below there the River splits into multiple branches. This is part of the active delta front that has, over time, built up the larger Mississippi River Delta.

Space-shuttle photograph of the Mississippi Delta region, southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.
A = Grand Isle,
B = Head of Passes, Mississippi River,
C = Chandeleur Islands,
D = Mississippi Sound.
Adapted from NASA JSC, STS-51C-143-027, 1/85

The Breaux Act Task Force voted to close the West Bay diversion on the Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineer officials estimated it will cost $140 million -- about 20 percent of all money available in the remaining life of the small project coastal restoration grant program -- to dredge the anchorages through 2023.

The Breaux Act program -- whose official title is the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act -- will have $682 million available through its authorized life, which ends in 2020.

Now let me get this right: The Army Corps of Engineers is suggesting that they use $140 MILLION dollars from a Coastal Restoration Program to dredge parking spaces for boats? Do the citizens of Louisiana get a vote on this farce?

More from the TP:

The West Bay diversion allows 20,000 cubic feet per second of sediment-laced water to flow into the bay, with a goal of creating 10,000 acres of wetlands during its first 20 years of operation. The original plan was to expand it to 50,000 cubic feet per second in a few years to speed the filling process.

A Plaquemines Parish official warned the state board that threatening the diversion sends the wrong message to Congress at a time when Louisiana needs billions of federal dollars for coastal restoration projects.

You bet your ass it sends the wrong message! Louisiana is lucky if it has ten years left to restore the wetlands devastated by Katrina, Gustav and Ike.

I realize that shipping is a major industry for this area, but this area won't be here if we don't actively pursue REAL coastal restoration now.

Several state and national environmental groups also criticized the decision.

"Restoration projects will change the coastal landscape. We can't back off from inevitable trade-offs, " said Maura Wood, of the National Wildlife Federation. "We must solve these problems, not just give up."

"The fact that this decision contemplates closure of this diversion without more substantial scientific review is shocking and cannot be allowed to stand, " said Steven Peyronnin, executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

The corps' New Orleans district commander, Col. Alvin Lee, said state officials earlier signed a cost-sharing agreement that made the Breaux Act program responsible for those costs.

Even without the signed agreement, Lee said, existing congressional authorization language prohibits the corps from paying to keep the anchorages clean of sediment because they sit outside the river's navigation channel.

The corps already has developed three alternatives for closing the diversion.

A team of officials from Breaux Act agencies -- the corps, Environmental Protection Agency, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the state -- also will conduct a study looking for financing alternatives or ways to reduce shoaling caused by the project.

George Duffy, president of NSA Agencies Inc., a marine shipping firm, urged the task force to pay for the dredging of the anchorages, saying the line of parking spots near Pilottown is important for ships seeking shelter from storms and hurricanes.

Duffy said the anchorage area never required dredging before the West Bay diversion opened in 2003.

"We could anchor over 30 vessels there, " he said. "Now we're down to five or six deep draft, and in some parts of the lower end, we're down to 12 feet of water.

"Even offshore supply boats can't get in that area."

I wonder how much all these huge shipping firms are willing to kick in to search for alternatives. Mr. Duffy's company certainly has a stock in restoring the wetlands, as it's located in St. Rose, Louisiana.


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