[StBernard] Melancon joins Landrieu and Baker in Urging President to Support Morganza Levee Projects

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Apr 18 20:51:36 EDT 2007

WASHINGTON - United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La.,
Congressman Richard Baker, R-La., and Congressman Charlie Melancon, D-La.,
today sent a letter to President George W. Bush asking him to withdraw his
"concerns" about the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project. The
White House earlier today released a Statement of Administration Policy
expressing "concerns" over the provision in the Water Resources Development
Act that authorized the key hurricane protection projects.

"The Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) for the Water
Resources Development Act (WRDA) issued today is extremely disconcerting and
appears to be inconsistent with your previous comments, as recent as August
29, 2006. Particularly troubling, the SAP expresses 'concerns' about the
Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project and suggests the project
requires reformulation."

On August 29, 2006, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall
on the Gulf Coast, President Bush spoke in New Orleans and underscored the
need for an effective levee system to protect coastal Louisiana. "In order
to make sure that people understand there's hope and renewal in this area,
they've got to have confidence in a stronger levee system," he said.

"Most important for you to consider is that the Morganza to the Gulf
project will provide hurricane and flood protection to more than 120,000
residents of South Louisiana in an environmentally sensitive manner," the
Members continued in their letter. "Additionally, this project protects
significant energy infrastructure, critical to our national security and

"Because of our strong support for this vitally important project,
we worked late into the waning hours of the 109th Congress to authorize this
project, and have continued our efforts in the current session by
introducing appropriate authorizing legislation.

"We respectfully request that you express clear support for this
project and work with Congress to provide essential hurricane and flood
protection to the people of South Louisiana and to secure a key component of
our nation's energy supply."

The Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection Project 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

Sen. Landrieu and Congressmen Baker and Melancon worked
unsuccessfully though the final hours of the 109th Congress to authorize the
project, which was originally contingently 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 Morganza project is essential to protecting the lives of
thousands of people in south Louisiana," Sen. Landrieu said today.
"Congressman Baker and Melancon and I worked late into the 109th Congress to
get Morganza authorized, and we will continue to work with the Senate and
House leadership to ensure that the project remains in the final WRDA bill.
I have received EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer's commitment to
authorize the completion of this project, and I will work tirelessly to make
sure that the Lafourche and Terrebonne area is protected.

"It is unfortunate that the Bush Administration continues to express
'concerns' about this vital provision. The President made a promise to
Louisiana on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina of a strong levee system,
but his continued failure to clearly support vital levee projects hampers
our efforts and leaves many parts of Louisiana unready for a future
catastrophe. I hope that the Administration will remove its reservations to
this provision and clearly support Louisiana as we build an effective
hurricane protection infrastructure.

"With or without the President's support, Congressman Baker and
Melancon and I will keep pushing until Morganza is passed. Louisiana has
waited long enough, and these projects are too important to let the White
House force the Congress into removing the essential Morganza provision."

Congressman Melancon said, "Going into another hurricane season, I
am disappointed the Administration is still concerned about moving forward
with building the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane and storm protection
system. Morganza will provide hurricane and flood protection to 120,000
people in south Louisiana that are currently left exposed and vulnerable to
deadly storms coming off the Gulf. It is one of the most worthy and
carefully-studied projects in the WRDA bill, and we can't afford to delay it
any longer.

"However, regardless of the White House's official opinion on
Morganza-to-the-Gulf, it is still just that - an opinion - and the President
has given no indication that he would veto a bill that includes
authorization for Morganza. Despite the Administration's concerns, Congress
has not wavered in its commitment to Morganza and, even before today's
announcement from the White House, I had secured a commitment from House
leadership that authorization for Morganza would stay in WRDA. Senator
Landrieu had also received similar assurances from leadership on the Senate

"I look forward to sending this bill to the President for his
signature shortly so we can get moving on building comprehensive hurricane
protection for the people of south Louisiana."

The full text of the letter can be found here. <javascript:void(0);>

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