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Feds trying to scapegoat Sierra Club?

Remember the posts "Greens vs. Levees" or "New Orleans: A Green Genocide"? It looks like the feds might have been reading those articles:

The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."
...The Sierra Club and other environmental groups had nothing to do with the flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina that killed hundreds, [David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club] said. "It's unfortunate that the Bush administration is trying to shift the blame to environmental groups. It doesn't surprise me at all."
...[Contrary to what the NRO article says,] The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city...

"Greens vs. Levees"

John Berlau from Sep. 8:

With all that has happened in the state, it's understandable that the Louisiana chapter of the Sierra Club may not have updated its website. But when its members get around to it, they may want to change the wording of one item in particular. The site brags that the group is "working to keep the Atchafalaya Basin," which adjoins the Mississippi River not far from New Orleans, "wet and wild."
These words may seem especially inappropriate after the breaking of the levee that caused the tragic events in New Orleans last week. But "wet and wild" has a larger significance in light of those events, and so does the group using the phrase. The national Sierra Club was one of several environmental groups who sued the Army Corps of Engineers to stop a 1996 plan to raise and fortify Mississippi River levees...
...The lawsuit was settled in 1997 with the Corps agreeing to hold off on some work while doing an additional two-year environmental impact study. Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain...
...The Bush administration's flood-control efforts were often relentlessly opposed by environmental groups, and this opposition was frequently echoed by liberal activists and in the press. Bush kept his promise, and his appointees at the Corps of Engineers have stopped the "spring rise" plan that concerned so many about flooding. Environmentalists launched a barrage of criticism and a series of lawsuits. This was also the case with Bush's moves to stop the Clinton administration's plans to breach the dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the northwest. Even though the dams greatly help to control flooding in the region, American Rivers blasted the administration for failing to do enough to save the sockeye salmon native to the region.
Ironically, among those criticizing Bush for his actions to prevent flooding of the Missouri River was the ever-present anti-Bush environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He chastised Bush in 2004 for "managing the flow of the Missouri River." If, before Katrina, Bush had proceeded full-speed ahead and fortified the levees of the Mississippi for a Category 5 hurricane, Kennedy and others of his ilk would very likely have criticized Bush for trying to manage the natural flow of the Mississippi. And it's a good bet that many of the lefty bloggers now critical of Bush for not reinforcing the levees would have cited Bush's levee fortification as another way he was despoiling the natural environment.

"Suit claims wetlands loss intensified damage"

This will probably drag on for decades:

LAFAYETTE -- A lawsuit seeks what attorneys say could be billions of dollars from a long list of oil companies for damages to wetlands that would have allegedly softened Hurricane Katrina's blow.
The class-action suit, filed in federal court in Lafayette this week, names as plaintiffs "all persons, businesses and entities in the state of Louisiana who have suffered damages as a result of Hurricane Katrina's winds and storm surge."
At issue are the oil and gas pipeline canals that crisscross the state's coastal areas -- canals blamed in part for the loss of coastal marsh, an important hurricane buffer for inland areas...

"Corps of Engineers Admits Sandbag Error"

WASHINGTON -- The government should have pre-positioned more sandbags and helicopters in the New Orleans area before Hurricane Katrina struck so that repairs to broken levees could have started sooner, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday.
"In retrospect I would say yes, we could have, we should have, in anticipation of this," Lt. Gen. Carl Strock told a Pentagon news conference.

MR-Gulf Outlet canal under scrutiny; "express lane" for the surge

The NYT article linked in "St. Bernard Parish defenseless from storms til 2006" also includes this:

[St. Bernard Parish], which unlike New Orleans lies above sea level, was protected by the levee from the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a canal built by the corps that is now a subject of scrutiny. Completion of the canal four decades ago allowed saltwater intrusion that, the corps acknowledges, was a factor in the death of marshes that once helped protect the city from storm surges. Some experts say the canal may also have provided an express lane for the Aug. 29 surge to reach populated areas.

St. Bernard Parish defenseless from storms til 2006

The devastated St. Bernard Parish will be unprotected from storms at least until the start of 2006 and perhaps even into next hurricane season, according to "Engineers Say a Key Levee Won't Be Set for Months". That was reported by Col. Duane P. Gapinski of the Army Corps of Engineers. No one will be allowed back in to the parish for four months.

Why did the floodwalls break and not the levees?

From this:

One of the central mysteries emerging in the Hurricane Katrina disaster is why concrete floodwalls in three canals breached during the storm, causing much of the catastrophic flooding, while earthen hurricane levees surrounding the city remained intact...
"Why did we have no hurricane levee failures but five separate places with floodwall failures?" asked Joseph Suhayda, a retired LSU coastal engineer who examined the breaches last week. "That suggests there may be something about floodwalls that makes them more susceptible to failure. Did (the storm) exceed design conditions? What were the conditions? What about the construction?"
Ivor Van Heerden, who uses computer models to study storm-surge dynamics for the LSU Hurricane Center, has said that fragmentary initial data indicate that Katrina's storm-surge heights in Lake Pontchartrain would not have been high enough to top the canal walls and that a "catastrophic structural failure" occurred in the floodwalls...

Big Oil increased likelihood of damage?

This article contains the following unconfirmed information:

...Our levees flooded largely because we stupidly came to rely on the Federal Government to fix them for us. Our coastline's destroyed because of a curious deal, orchestrated by the Federal Government, allowing Big Oil to cut numerous waterways. Big Oil cut canals wider than any of our natural bayous, with neither levee nor shoal protecting adjoining lands, so Big Oil's barges dragging drilling platforms and pipelines could head straight out to the Gulf of Mexico. By law and contract, Big Oil was required to restore our coast to its natural condition by filling in the dredged canals and replanting the marsh. A tedious task, but far from impossible.
When Big Oil laughed us off, we stupidly appealed to the Federal Government for $14 billion to fix it for us...

Dynamited levees? Floodwall sabotaged? Was the flooding intentional?

Last week, the fever swamps were rampant with rumors of explosions designed to flood the poorer sections of New Orleans with the intent of saving the richer areas. Some no doubt came up with even wilder allegations. Here are some links:
The Xeni Jardin, DailyKos master thread
The LGF response thereto.
Any0ne? MSM Labor Day night,-Locals say explosives opened 9th ward levee
GetYourActOn: Also heard that part of the reason our house flooded is they dynamited part of the levee after the first section broke - they did this to prevent Uptown (the rich part of town) from being flooded. Apparently they used too much dynamite, thus flooding part of the Bywater. So now I know who is responsible for flooding my house - not Katrina, but our government.
Blasts heard before levee broke
Lots of stuff
"Genocide in New Orleans"
This site ties it all together: the 1927 intentional flooding and the WSJ article about the well-to-do.
And, moderately well-known blogger Ernie the Attorney passes along a letter from the boyfriend of a friend (aka, BFOAF).
And, in the strangest of them all file, try to find this entry on

It's not in google's cache. I even saved off their complete archives and grepped, without success... Have shadowy forces gotten to the Times-Pic?

Sandbags and the 17th Street Canal breach

From "The Steady Buildup to a City's Chaos" comes this explanation of what I saw on the TV at the time:

Army Corps officials were trying to close the gaps in the levees [on Aug. 30], but their hurried efforts to stem the flow were hampered by a lack of supplies. They could not find 10-ton sandbags or the slings they needed to drop the bags from helicopters; most of their personnel had evacuated, and so had their local contractors. "We didn't expect any breaches," Dan Hitchings of the agency's Mississippi Valley Division later explained. "We didn't think we were going to have a wall down." The corps tried to drop smaller sandbags into the 17th Street breach, but they simply floated away with the current.

Note that, as pointed out here before, what actually failed were the flood walls and not the levees. So, there's a difference between a "wall" and a "levee", but whether the walls were expected to fail or just the levees is not known.


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