Senate Committee Authorizes Key Army Corps Projects
Keeps promise to Sen. Landrieu to authorize Corps of Engineers to protect Louisiana from future storms.
WASHINGTON - In keeping a promise that United States Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), made to Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., to authorize key projects to better prepare Louisiana for future hurricanes, the EPW Committee today passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Sen. Boxer made the promise to Sen. Landrieu at an EPW field hearing on levees and integrated water management in New Orleans in February.
"Senator Boxer sent a signal to Louisianians that she will ensure that we have the protection we need from future hurricanes," Sen. Landrieu said. "This bill authorizes Army Corps of Engineers projects that will help restore our vanishing coastline and make our communities safer. Soon it will come to the Senate floor for a vote, and I will continue to work with Sen. Boxer to get it to the President's desk. I will work with my colleagues on the Energy and Water Subcommittee on Appropriations to make certain that the Corps has the resources it needs to implement the projects in this bill."
WRDA authorizes several key hurricane protection projects in Louisiana, including $886 million for Morganza to the Gulf, which is a series of levees, locks and other systems through Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes that will, when complete, serve to protect about 120,000 people and 1,700 square miles of land against storm surges such as those caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Sen. Landrieu worked unsuccessfully though the final hours of the 109th Congress to authorize the project, which was originally authorized in the 2000 WRDA bill. The bill directed the Army Corps of Engineers to deliver a favorable feasibility report by December 31st of that year, but while the recommendation was favorable, it was submitted more than a year late and the authorization expired. Congress has not delivered a new WRDA bill since.
The bill also authorizes Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration, which authorizes the Corps of Engineers' to implement coastal restoration projects.
"This bill will help preserve and rebuild Louisiana's coast," Sen. Landrieu said. "Our wetlands are an essential part of Louisiana's culture, and they provide a necessary buffer to help keep storm surges out of our communities. This legislation gives the Corps the authority it needs to help restore our coastline and to protect our communities from future hurricanes."
WRDA also authorizes Part of Iberia navigation/storm surge protection projects, a Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) Revolving Loan Fund for private facilities, MRGO Relocation Assistance for public facilities, Calcasieu River and Pass Rock Bank protection and the Bayou Sorrel Lock.
Also included in the bill is a provision that Sen. Landrieu secured in last year's WRDA bill that would require dredged material collected as a result of dredging near the Port of Iberia to be used to build storm surge protection on the south bank of the Gulf Intracostal Waterway and the west bank of the Freshwater Bayou Channel. Emphasizing the impact that Hurricane Rita had on southeast Louisiana, Sen. Landrieu ensured that WRDA directives to the Corps in relation to Hurricane Katrina were also applied equally to projects in Hurricane Rita-affected parishes.