Friday, September 30, 2005

Endangered Species Act Changes Pass House

Although we oppose the bill, we understand the motivation behind it. Traditional environmental groups have sometimes misused the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to stop good projects. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) just got payback by getting the House to pass the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA) by a vote of 229-193 on Sept 29, 2005. His victory will be short lived though because it will die in the Senate.

According to Chairman Pombo and his cosponsor Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), TESRA will update, modernize and fix long-outstanding problems of the ESA of 1973 by (1) focusing on species recovery (2) providing incentives (3) increasing openness and accountability (4) strengthening scientific standards (5) creating bigger roles for state and local governments (6) protecting private property owners and (7) eliminating dysfunctional critical habitat designations. (More)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Did Traditional Environmental Groups Help Katrina Destroy Poor Black New Orleans?

According to recent published reports, the delay in building and improving levees could be due, in part, to the opposition of traditional environmental groups to dams, levees, and anything that would interfere with the natural flow of the Mississippi River. Levees hold the same status for traditional environmental groups as roads in forests — an artificial barrier to nature. The Army Corps of Engineers was planning to upgrade the levees after Hurricane Betsy in 1965 to prevent a future catastrophic failure. The environmental group's position possibly contributed to an unintended consequence, but the so-called pro flora and fauna position led to a very serious result for humans, flora and fauna. And there are many other areas where such consequences can occur. Lawsuits by environmental groups probably muddied the flood protection waters.

In Save Our Wetlands v. Rush, the Army Corps was directed by a federal judge in 1977 to examine the environmental impacts of a large levee project, which would have built a 25-mile-long barrier from the Mississippi border to the Mississippi River. After the Army Corps declined to reevaluate its plan, Save Our Wetlands filed suit and obtained a federal judge’s injunction. The Corps was ordered to conduct a new study of the impact of its project, but it never did so.

A 1996 suit (Mississippi River Basin Alliance, et al. v. H. Martin Lancaster) filed by environmental groups at the U.S. District Court in New Orleans claimed the Corps had not looked at “the impact on bottomland hardwood wetlands.” The lawsuit stated, “Bottomland hardwood forests must be protected and restored if the Louisiana black bear is to survive as a species, and if we are to ensure continued support for source population of all birds breeding in the lower Mississippi River valley.” In addition to the Sierra Club, other parties to the suit were the group American Rivers, the Mississippi River Basin Alliance, and the Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi Wildlife Federations.

The lawsuit was settled in 1997 with the Corps agreeing to perform an additional two-year environmental impact study (EIS). A federal judge stopped plans for the hurricane barrier after finding that the EIS drafted by the Army Corps of Engineers was flawed. The corps eventually abandoned the project. A congressional task force also reported that the levees that failed in New Orleans would have been raised higher and strengthened in 1996 by the Army Corps of Engineers were it not for a lawsuit filed by environmentalists led by the Sierra Club.

President Bush and Louisiana Governor Blanco (still waiting by Mayor Nagin) have taken responsibility for any problems due to the government response. Should the Sierra Club and the other parties to the suit also be held accountable for the flooding of New Orleans?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Black City Destroyed by Katrina

Although most whites do not like to acknowledge, discuss, visit or live in the black part of town, there is one in virtually every city in the U.S. New Orleans was a city that was 67% black until September 2005. It was a majority black city and now it is gone. Scattered throughout the U.S. Imagine all of the blacks in Washington, DC - gone. Or Prince George's County, Maryland blacks (the richest majority black county in the U.S.) - gone. Imagine no Compton or Harlem. Black New Orleans is now a toxic wasteland that will probably not be habitable for years.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that there are majority black cities and counties? Mostly these are formed as whites move out as blacks move in. Blacks are perfectly happy around their own in these enclaves. But what about New Orleans? Will it be black again? Should it be black again? Does it matter?

New Orleans Map


City of New Orleans

New Orleans Blogging

New Orleans Demographics

Greater New Orleans

And although the face of Katrina's victims have been portrayed as black and poor, much like welfare and crime, most of the victims in the Gulf Coast region are white.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Katrina, President Bush & Gov Blanco

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco's refusal to authorize the federal government to take control delayed the response of the federal government in providing food, water and security to poor stranded blacks in and at the Superdome and at the Convention Center in New Orleans in the first days after the Hurricane Katrina crisis. President Bush was being generous when he acknowledged that the initial response and results were 'unacceptable.' Any anger, blame and ultimate responsibility for the early inadequate response should be placed at the feet of Gov Blanco.

The day after President Bush's visit to New Orleans, ALL of the people at those sites were provided with food and water, airlifted and arrangements were made for temporary shelter. The current effort to help blacks in New Orleans and all hurricane victims is now in full force and American might is being applied to the situation. All of the volunteers, government workers, the media and everyone else contributing to the evacuation and reclamation of the Gulf Coast region should be commended for their work.

Much is left to be done. America now has a toxic city that must be cleaned up and rebuilt. Hundreds of thousands of people will need assistance to get their lives back. It is now time for all Americans to work together to solve the problems created by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. We are sure America will rise to the challenge. What do you think?