[StBernard] Shipping interests pushing for MR-GO

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sat Sep 23 22:49:30 EDT 2006

I cannot believe these clowns are going to try and bullshit us again with
false benefits of the MRGO. Let me suggest this: if these businesses are so
confident the MRGO can be reopened and managed correctly, then are they
willing to each sign a $10 billion damage bond should the MRGO ever again
flood over Orleans and St. Bernard? You can bet your ass they wouldn't be
willing to go along with that - even though "they" are they only ones who
want the ship channel open and would make use of it.

Gee, what a deal!... get Congress to spend our tax dollars to reopen MRGO,
"they" get to use it and make money off it, but we homeowners get screwed
again when the next Katrina wipes us out again and we're left holding the
bag - and to bury those killed.

I wonder if David Kearney lives in St. Bernard or has any family here? Does
he or any businessman affiliated with the MRGO have any sense of morality?

- John Scurich

----- Original Message -----

> Editors Note: See the bottom of email for info on who to send your

> complaints to:

> -------------

> Shipping interests pushing for MR-GO

> But it faces huge obstacles as a deep-draft channel

> Friday, September 22, 2006

> By Matthew Brown

> West Bank bureau


> More than 40 years after completion of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet,

> backers of the embattled waterway say an economic windfall that has been

> promised since before its construction is almost at hand -- if only the

> channel is restored as a shipping lane.


> The political environment increasingly is stacked against that


> On Thursday, Mayor Ray Nagin's administration joined the state and St.

> Bernard Parish in asking for the Gulf Outlet, or MR-GO, to be closed to

> deep-draft vessels. And at the insistence of Congress, the Army Corps of

> Engineers is drafting a closure plan for the waterway, blamed for


> Hurricane Katrina's pounding of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.


> Despite the long odds, business groups and shipping interests are

> maneuvering to persuade the federal government to again dredge the channel

> to accommodate deep-draft vessels.


> This time, they claim, it could be done right: Navigable gates could be

> built to block storm surge and end the 76-mile channel's history of

> destruction of surrounding wetlands. And despite the disappointing payoff


> the hundreds of millions of dollars poured into the federal project over

> four decades, channel backers say it could at last realize its economic

> potential.


> Global trade is booming. New offshore oil fields are set to open. And


> ports on the Gulf Coast are jammed up. The time for the MR-GO, they say,


> finally arrived.


> "We've got an opportunity, for once, to be competitive," said David


> vice president of The Kearney Companies, which operates several warehouses

> along the Industrial Canal, where the MR-GO enters New Orleans. "Just

> closing it arbitrarily would be a knee-jerk reaction to something we have

> known to be a problem for a long time."



> 'Time to act'



> Ships have had limited use of the MR-GO since Katrina reduced its minimum

> depth from 40 feet to about 22 feet. In November, Congress turned down the

> corps' request for money for emergency dredging. Since then traffic has


> limited largely to fishing boats, barges, oil industry service vessels and

> other shallow-draft ships.


> Critics of the channel say their opposition goes far beyond its past

> economic failures. They see it as the culprit in hundreds of deaths in St.

> Bernard, eastern New Orleans and the 9th Ward. Katrina's surge overwhelmed

> levees along the channel in St. Bernard and funneled through the upper


> of the MR-GO to breach levees along the Industrial Canal.


> Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said in a recent interview that as part of its

> closure plan, the corps "can look at everything under the sun, but as a

> practical matter that issue has been decided."


> On Thursday, Nagin's economic development chief, Donna Addkison, wrote a

> letter to the corps saying "the outlet should be closed" to deep-draft

> vessels.


> "Discussion of the closing of this outlet has continued for too long. Now


> the time to act," Addkison wrote.


> Another obstacle facing channel backers is a pending federal lawsuit


> for its closure. Plaintiffs include the St. Bernard Parish Council and

> Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti.



> Big plans



> Yet representatives of businesses and shipping interests have not given up

> their push. In a series of presentations to corps officials during the


> two months, along with behind-the-scenes lobbying, they have laid out


> plea for restoring the waterway to at least a 28-foot depth.


> Their arguments echo claims made when MR-GO was conceived in the 1950s. At

> the time, it was promoted as a centerpiece in New Orleans' dream to be the

> "Gateway to the Americas": a hub for international shipping traffic that

> would propel the region onto the global stage.


> Now, it's being touted as part of a "Gulf Gateway" strategy in which the

> Port of New Orleans could rival competing facilities in Houston; Mobile,

> Ala.; Los Angeles; Miami and New York to grab a significant slice of the

> United States' growing trade with Asia.


> Much of that hoped-for increase in shipping would have to come in along


> Mississippi River. Even at 28 feet deep, the MR-GO could not handle the

> latest "megaships" that have drafts of 40 feet or more. Kearney said the

> Industrial Canal and MR-GO could take spillover traffic, particularly the

> smaller ships typically used for trade with Central and South America.


> "Absolutely protect people, protect the environment," he said. "But we've

> got infrastructure that's already in place. It needs some help from

> destruction that Katrina has caused, but most ports would kill to have



> As Congress considers opening vast new areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico

> to offshore drilling, the orientation of the MR-GO, which runs southeast

> from the city into Breton Sound, could make New Orleans and St. Bernard an

> attractive staging ground for energy companies, said Bruce Thompson,

> president of Thompson Equipment Co.


> Thompson and several other former members of the Bring New Orleans Back

> Commission have been pushing their own plan for addressing the channel's

> threat to public safety and the environment.


> A storm surge gate could be built at the upper reach of the outlet where


> approaches the city, similar to the corps' plans for that area. A weir


> be built across the MR-GO at Bayou la Loutre, with a permanent notch of 8


> 10 feet deep. That would allow unimpeded sportfishing and oil industry

> service boat traffic.


> A 28-foot gate at the Bayou la Loutre site would let larger ships through.

> But the gate could be kept closed most of the time to block the flow of

> saltwater from the Gulf that is blamed for killing an estimated 27,000


> of marsh in the area.


> "We can have protection and we can have the environment and we can have

> commerce," said Billy Marchal, one of the authors of the plan.



> Paying the bill



> A New Orleans dredging company estimates it would cost $6.3 million to

> restore the channel to 28 feet deep. Returning it to its pre-Katrina depth

> would cost about $27 million, said Ancil Taylor, vice president for the


> Bean dredging company.


> If that dredging occurs and the anticipated shipping traffic never

> materializes, the gate at Bayou la Loutre could simply stay shut, Thompson

> said. He argued building the structure only to have it go unused still


> be cheaper than a $375 million relocation package Vitter has proposed for

> Industrial Canal businesses.


> Port of New Orleans officials have acknowledged the channel played a

> diminishing role in New Orleans shipping industry in recent years. In


> large-ship traffic had dropped to 224 vessels carrying 1.3 million tons of

> cargo -- roughly equal to the tonnage when the MR-GO first opened in 1963.


> Meanwhile, the cost of maintenance had soared to $16.1 million a year by

> 2004, translating into more than $71,000 per large ship.



> Patience gone



> The port, long considered the channel's biggest champion, no longer


> backs a return to deep draft. As a state agency, it has fallen in line


> the policy of Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who favors closure and cash from the

> federal government to help affected businesses relocate.


> Whether the state would support a shallower draft to allow barges to use


> MR-GO has not been revealed. In St. Bernard, officials and residents say

> even that would be too much.


> "St. Bernard Parish has never realized any positive benefits from the


> nor do we want to wait around to see if it may happen in the future," said

> council member Joey DiFatta. "After 45 years of the MR-GO, we don't have


> minutes to wait for anything positive. We have experienced only many

> negatives, to the tune of 145 residents drowned or dead."


> Marchal said he recognizes the MR-GO is "an emotional issue" for those who

> blame it for the loss of their homes. But he said the region would be


> of a chance to at last realize the channel's potential if that sentiment

> prevails.


> "The people who are so emotional about it do not take the time to


> how you can accommodate deep-draft navigation. The economic story has not

> yet come out," he said.


> . . . . . . .


> Matthew Brown can be reached at mbrown at timespicayune.com or (504)



> ---------------------------------------------

> Billy Marchal

> 504-756-7830

> awmarchal at cox.net

> -------------------------------------



> 4000 France Road Parkway

> New Orleans, LA 70126-6153

> Tel: 504.831.0266

> Fax: 504.831.7669

> info at kearneycompanies.com

> ginger at neworleansadvertising.com

> David Kearney (504) 283-1817 311 W Robert E Lee Blvd,New Orleans, LA 70124


> --------------------------------

> Thompson Equipment Company, Inc.

> PO Box 4189

> New Orleans, LA 70178-4189

> Bruce Thompson, President - brucet at teco-inc.com


> Physical Address:

> 125 Industrial Avenue

> New Orleans, LA 70121


> You may call or fax us at the following numbers:


> New Orleans

> 504.833.6381 phone (emergencies handled 24/7/365)

> 504.831.4664 fax


> Baton Rouge

> 225.293.6663 phone

> 225.293.6673 fax


> sales at teco-inc.com

> support at teco-inc.com

> acct at teco-inc.com

> teco at teco-inc.com

> info at teco-inc.com

> -------------------------------------






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