Task Force to Review Post-Katrina Restoration

A new interagency task force that will include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will review the federal government's efforts to restore the coastlines of Louisiana and Mississippi, according to an Aug. 27 Bloomberg report.

Last weekend was the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the design and engineering projects developed to restore the area have not been completed.

Louisiana and national environmental groups on Aug. 28 praised the Obama administration for announcing a new interagency working group.

The severity of Katrina's damage – nearly $90 billion in property damage alone -- was caused, in part, by the fact that Louisiana has lost one-third of its original wetlands – about 2,000 square miles. Yet, the groups say, four years after Katrina, Congress has been unable to fund major coastal restoration projects it authorized in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not completed the projects' design and engineering.

“The pace of restoration has not matched the urgency of the situation,” said Steven Peyronnin, executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. “We are hopeful that the administration will breathe new life into restoration efforts that are crucial to protecting the people of Coastal Louisiana.”

According to the administration: “The group will enable federal agencies, working with state and local governments and other regional stakeholders, to come together and develop a strategy to increase both the economic and environmental resiliency of the region. This working group will serve as a pilot for addressing the effects of climate change in other coastal regions.”

“As things stand, coastal Louisiana is disappearing and faces increasing threats from climate change,” said Susan Kaderka, director of the National Wildlife Federation's South Central Regional office. “The Obama Administration has signaled that it is keeping its promises to the people of the Gulf Coast.”

“The situation in coastal Louisiana is one of national and international concern," said Brian Moore, director of Budget and Appropriations for the National Audubon Society. "This new announcement from the Obama administration recognizes the urgency under which we are operating and replaces what has been largely rhetoric with action. We are all very excited to get to work to restore this world class ecosystem.”

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