Ideologues Hinder Environmental Clean-up


Contact: Peyton Knight or Ryan Balis at (202) 543-4110
For Release: October 14, 2005

 

Washington, D.C. - Areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina continue to be environmental wastelands and some environmental ideologues are doing their best to keep them that way, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research. 

Government officials recently warned of serious health hazards spawned by bacteria, fecal contamination, and various chemicals still prevalent in the sediment left behind by floodwaters.  Despite this toxic soup and all its dangers, some environmental groups are scaremongering against a congressional measure that would permit the Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily waive onerous regulations that hamper the clean-up effort.

Peyton Knight, Director of the John P. McGovern MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the National Center, notes that such obstructionism is sadly ironic.

"The same brand of environmental obstructionism that prevented the City of New Orleans from building vitally-necessary flood gates almost 30 years ago, is now impeding the clean-up of the disaster," he said. 

In 1977, the environmental group Save Our Wetlands (SOWL) successfully sued to stop the construction of a hurricane barrier project that was designed to thwart flooding wrought by powerful storms such as Hurricane Katrina.  The Save Our Wetlands website even boasts: 

"While politicians talk, SOWL sues! SOWL has been involved in countless lawsuits involving Lake Ponchartrain on every subject... In 1977, SOWL obtained an injunction from U.S. District Judge Charles Schwartz enjoining the Corps of Engineers from building a billion dollar dam at the Chef Mentaur Rigolets Fort Pike Area, where the Gulf of Mexico enters into Lake Ponchartrain."

Joseph Towers, retired chief counsel for the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans district, told the Los Angeles Times last month: "If we had built the barriers, New Orleans would not be flooded."

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is now sponsoring a measure that would give the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to grant a temporary waiver of certain environmental regulations that hamstring the Katrina recovery effort. 

While EPA officials consider Inhofe's proposal important to the recovery effort, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and the Natural Resources Defense Council are demonizing the measure.

EPA officials say one million people lack drinking water in the New Orleans area and 70 million tons of hazardous waste still remain on the Gulf Coast.  Much of the area is an environmental wasteland.

"It just goes to show that some environmental ideologues are more interested in saving cumbersome laws and restrictions than they are about saving the actual environment," said Knight.  "As the Gulf region's environment festers in filth and disease, these environmentalists are trying to prohibit a speedy recovery."

Incredibly, Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) claims the proposal to help hasten the clean-up effort would "undermine public health protections," despite the obvious public health crisis that currently blankets the region.

"It appears that Jim Jeffords is running out of things from which to declare independence," notes Knight, "Common sense must be next on the list."

For more information, contact Peyton Knight or Ryan Balis at (202) 543-4110.

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