Blame the tree-huggers?
September 8, 2005 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Blame the tree-huggers? 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.
posted by flyboy (43 comments total)
 
Any chance you've got a more impartial source for this story?
posted by gwint at 11:23 AM on September 8, 2005


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.

A rather tenuous connection for a post.
posted by quadog at 11:24 AM on September 8, 2005


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.
Didn't the Levies that broke abut Lake Pontchartrain? And wasn't the efforts to restore the wetlands one of the reasons cited that a category 4 hurricane hit New Orleans instead of a category 5?
posted by jperkins at 11:25 AM on September 8, 2005


Interesting, but I don't really buy it. My understanding is that channelizing rivers is still pretty much a bad idea - not because it might hurt the little furry folk, but because it's bad for flood control. You're changing the "energy curve", so minor events don't cause real flooding, but there's worse potential at the high-energy end of the curve. That is: you do stop minor and medium floods, but in fact make major events worse.

So it seems really unlikely to me that a few more and higher and straighter concrete banks are likely to have (helpfully) affected Katrina - though I'm no expert.
posted by freebird at 11:25 AM on September 8, 2005


Keep those training wheels on the gurney for awhile and you'll be in an honest wheelchair in no time.
posted by y2karl at 11:26 AM on September 8, 2005


Oh, I meant to add: keep slinging that shit and hopefully some of it will stick.
posted by jperkins at 11:27 AM on September 8, 2005


I think that's clutching at straws, if that is not an inppropriate metaphor.
posted by carter at 11:28 AM on September 8, 2005


Gah - inappropriate.
posted by carter at 11:28 AM on September 8, 2005


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.

In other words, the lawsuit had absolutely nothing to do with delaying the work on the particular levees critical to NO's survival, but we'd still like to take this opportunity to impune the good people who devote their lives to trying to look out for all of us because this is all a big game, we're obviously the good guys, and most importantly, we can. What a bunch of pathetic, whiny babies.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:32 AM on September 8, 2005


It's tough on wingers if there's no Kerry or Sheehan to Swift Boat when Dubya screws the pooch.

[in zombie voice] Must find scapegoat. Dear Leader can do no wrong.
posted by nofundy at 11:34 AM on September 8, 2005


Umyeah, I'm sure a nine year attempt to stop the work on the levees is why Bush underfunded the fortification of the levees. He's such a sensitive nature loving gentleman.

Who's gonna get blamed next, a kid who kicked a pile of dirt at the bottom of a levee? Why aren't the real people responsible being held accountable? Oh right, I keep forgetting, they're pals with the president and that automatically makes them right in every case so it must be someone else's fault.
posted by fenriq at 11:35 AM on September 8, 2005


Dude, that kid kicking at the bottom of the levies is sooooooo grounded.
posted by freebird at 11:37 AM on September 8, 2005


Actually, I have a better idea than this post: instead of more and more tenous links attempted to be made by the right to get someone to shoulder the blame for this, the Bush administration should take it on the chin like the macho war heroes that those chicken hawks craveningly imitate. They completely fucked this up. They fucked up with budget cuts. They fucked up with the blind nepotism in appointing a completely unqualified person as head of FEMA. They fucked up with Condi going shopping, while Rummy watched a ball game, while George played guitar while New Orleans drowned. They fucked up with the attempts to blame the victims. They fucked up when the tried to blame the State of Louisiana and New Orleans (neither of which are chartered solely to deal with disaster like, say FEMA).

Watching the feds respond to this has been like watching a dim witted monkey try to screw a football. And by all appearances it's going to continue to be a fuck up until, finally, there's no one left in New Orleans - they'll have either died, rescued by people ignoring the FEMA orders to stay out or finally been evacuated.
posted by jperkins at 11:38 AM on September 8, 2005


"Whether this delay directly affected ... is difficult to ascertain." - linked article

"... the lawsuit had absolutely nothing to do with delaying the work on the particular levees critical to NO's survival, but ..." - all-seeing eye dog, above

Those statements ARE NOT LOGICALLY EQUAL!!!!! You posted that as a direct interpreted meaning to the original comment. Logic, causality, and sound reasoning does NOT function like that.
posted by mystyk at 11:40 AM on September 8, 2005


Ok, so let's not play the blame game, except to perhaps blame state and local officals, the ACoE, the Sierra Club...

Am I missing anyone? The ACLU perhaps? MoveOn.org?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:43 AM on September 8, 2005


Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain.

I think this is con-speak for "we couldn't find any supporting evidence that it is so, but we reserve the right to float it as an allegation that support our beyond-bizarre allegations."
posted by clevershark at 11:44 AM on September 8, 2005


Am I missing anyone? The ACLU perhaps? MoveOn.org?

The fat guy with the reindeer. And the "fairy" with a fetish for teeth.
posted by jperkins at 11:45 AM on September 8, 2005


The French instigated this disaster by founding the city in the first place.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:45 AM on September 8, 2005


...in other words, what all-seeing eye dog said.
posted by clevershark at 11:46 AM on September 8, 2005


The more of these things I read, the more I get the sneaking suspicion that the motherfucking president's gonna get away with this. Unbelievable.
posted by fungible at 11:50 AM on September 8, 2005


I know the statements aren't equivalent, mystyk. I'm just inferring that this is the case, in the absence of any clear evidence to support the claim. How does the fact that environmentalists opposed the construction of some levees in Louisiana imply that environmentalists had anything to do with delaying the construction of the particular levees that failed? My understanding from the article is that these are completely unrelated projects that all just happen to have something to do with the word "levee"; there's nothing here to establish even a hint of a causal relationship between the efforts of environmentalists and the problems in NO.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2005


While it is true that "we can't tell whether there was any effect" and "there was no effect" are logically inequivalent, it should be noted that the levees addressed in TFA are the 25-foot Mississippi River levees which are still completely intact and operable, and are not in any way mechanically or hydraulically coupled to the failed Pontchartrain levees. They are completely separate systems, and have as much impact on Pontchartrain levee failure flooding as would (to cite an example off the top of my head) conditions at the Emsworth Lock and Dam on the Ohio River at Neville Island, Pennsylvania.

So while there is no logical equivalence here, anyone making the former ("we can't tell") statement is A) uselessly waxing philosophical in the stoned-behind-the-gym-on-Friday-afternoon sort of way, B) making an exceptionally clumsy attempt at blame diversion, and/or C) not awfully bright.
posted by Vetinari at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2005


</i>. d'oh.
posted by Vetinari at 11:55 AM on September 8, 2005


Maybe we can blame it on John Kerry next?
posted by shawnj at 11:55 AM on September 8, 2005


Not to derail the derail, but I think that what jperkins said in his first comment is important and a lot of people, at least at this time, are dismissing it. At some point there will have to be a decision made as to what to do about the New-New Orleans. One can't really be in favor of reconstructing New Orleans the way it was and also wish to let the Mississippi River flood, thereby fortifying the barrier islands and wetlands to the south. Now might be as good as time as any to relocate those people who lived south of the Mississippi River from New Orleans so that the Delta can begin to regenerate the way it should and perhaps even needs to be.

Figuring out who is responsible for the slow and incompetent reaction to the flood is important now, but in a few months I'll be interested to hear how, why, and what people will argue needs to be done about New Orleans and the rest of Southern Louisiana.
posted by billysumday at 12:00 PM on September 8, 2005


Clinton. He's still around, right? Let's blame him. Or Jimmy Carter.
posted by wakko at 12:02 PM on September 8, 2005


Well, the point is that something as serious as a levee vailure often has a multitude of causes. Please don't interpret this as "nobody's guilty because everyone's guilty" because it's not, but there are many involved reasons. The biggest one is still most likely BushCo attempts to keep the funding away from democrat controlled regions. Other contributing factors may include lawsuits over the construction, global warming, etc. It's not sound to simply boil everything down to one cause. We can't discount things; we can simply point out which causes were controllable by us and which were not, and link individuals/groups to their actions in the former case.
posted by mystyk at 12:04 PM on September 8, 2005


Also: wouldn't the Sierra Club suing the Army Corps of Engineers be largely just a publicity stunt to get more attention paid to the state of the ecosystems of Southern Louisiana? To me, that seems like a good way of getting people's attention, and I highly doubt they thought they had a case. (Not that anybody who would actually blame the Sierra Club would care or understand that).
posted by billysumday at 12:07 PM on September 8, 2005


Thanks Vetinari! Excellent clarification.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:17 PM on September 8, 2005


Mystyk wrote: "It's not sound to simply boil everything down to one cause. We can't discount things; we can simply point out which causes were controllable by us and which were not, and link individuals/groups to their actions in the former case."

Agreed (and well put).
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:18 PM on September 8, 2005


More noise from the National Review and their minions.
posted by bshort at 12:28 PM on September 8, 2005


Thank goodness we can blame liberals for the flooding! Now all we have to do is find a way to blame the hurricane on al-Qaeda.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2005


Here's an excellent summary of the engineering problem in its political context, by a seventy-five-year-old Greek civil engineer. Sometimes his English grammar isn't perfect, but his insights into the link between civil engineering, politics, and corruption, and above all his sense of proportion are spot on.
posted by cleardawn at 12:33 PM on September 8, 2005


fandango_matt, blame it on Al-Qaeda so we can invade Peru?
posted by fenriq at 12:34 PM on September 8, 2005


No no, fenriq.

We must invade Venezuela next, to prevent Chavez spreading Muslim extremism.

There's no need to make this stuff up. No need to exaggerate.

Actually, it's becoming increasingly difficult to exaggerate.
posted by cleardawn at 12:51 PM on September 8, 2005


Well cleardawn, I had great hopes for your link, though i should perhaps know better.

Note: If I may offer some advice: In any discussions, especially with the Corps, about the future protection of New Orleans from hurricanes, the citizens should not fall into the trap of notions such as: the "design hurricane" that offers a "reasonable" protection.

Hmm. Been a while since he did much real engineering, I'll warrant, making stupid statements like that. But he does say Bush et al must pay for thier crimes, so I guess it's a good article...
posted by freebird at 12:58 PM on September 8, 2005


Why blame the environmental group when the judge found in their favor?
posted by Postroad at 2:07 PM on September 8, 2005


This is yet another article by the National Review to put horse blinders on its constituency's nagging guilt. Cutting infrastructure expenditure and having a smaller government, which returns money to the well-to-do with big tax cuts is good for us... except when tens of thousands of people get killed.

No, what the Republicans need to do is get behind their unbuilt levees and say "I did that! And you know... I'd do it again!" They need to get behind the young, uneducated, hungry black kids and say "Yes, *I* took away your school lunches, and when you're poor and uneducated and turn to crime, I'll throw you into a crowded prison and forget about you... because it's good for society! You're yet another problem not worth spending my time and money to try to fix."

Where's the Republicans pride in their accomplishments here?! Throw away your sense of guilt and admit it. Drowning New Orleans made ideological sense!
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:11 PM on September 8, 2005


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.

Hey, what a great rhetorical technique. Now I can blame people for the things that even I myself acknowledge they have not in fact done:
If, on the other hand, before Katrina, Bush had proceeded full-speed ahead and fortified the levees of the Mississippi for a Category 5 hurricane, John Berlau would very likely have pillaged the city, personally raping every man-child under the age of 10, and murdering the older ones.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:17 PM on September 8, 2005


If, on the other hand, before Katrina, Bush had proceeded full-speed ahead and fortified the levees of the Mississippi for a Category 5 hurricane, freebird would very likely have posted a comment that made sense.

Yay, this is great! Thanks, Western Infidels and the National Review, I'm going to use this one a lot from now on!

If, on the other hand, before Katrina, Bush had proceeded full-speed ahead and fortified the levees of the Mississippi for a Category 5 hurricane,
Dick Cheney would very likely have fucked himself live on national TV.

Ho! Ho!

This is the wittiest one of all, though:

If, on the other hand, before Katrina, Bush had proceeded full-speed ahead and fortified the levees of the Mississippi for a Category 5 hurricane,
tens of thousands of people would very likely not have been killed, and an entire fucking city would very likely not have been destroyed.

Hilarious! Funny how the National Review missed that one.
posted by cleardawn at 4:06 PM on September 8, 2005


You confuse "making sense" with "liking your article", cleardawn. I'm not sure what part of my comment confused you - I thought it was pretty succinct. The article you linked to is shoddy. The author attempts to trade political fervor for technical or informative content, and fails. It could be paraphrased as "I was a civil engineer 30 years ago, so listen to me about Katrina: George Bush and his cronies must pay!"

Clear enough?
posted by freebird at 4:28 PM on September 8, 2005


If George W. Bush were to be discovered dead of auto-erotic self-asphyxiation tomorrow, the National Review would hail his courageous stance against adultery.
posted by clevershark at 5:35 PM on September 8, 2005


The very technology that protects New Orleans from flooding has backfired, environmental experts say.

They say the levees that ring the city have led to the rapid decay of nearby wetlands during the past century, removing a crucial buffer zone that once protected the area from hurricanes.
Source: Wetland erosion raises hurricane risk
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2005


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