Have they learned nothing from New Orleans?
Predictably (and rightly), the move has enraged environmentalists, who have been advocating for the disappearing wetlands for decades now, mostly in vain. This move allows developers to build on small tracts of land, and it places minimal restrictions on what can be built. Types of buildings to be permitted include residential homes, shopping venues, hospitals, prisons, and schools.
If you were a resident of low-lying Louisiana who had experienced Hurricane Katrina (or evacuated and returned to find your community in ruins), wouldn’t it make you feel nice and cozy to know that your kids’ new school could be built on a filled-in marshland that had flooded before–as long as the school was small and the entire development didn’t take up over half an acre? (In some parts of rural Louisiana, that’s not out of the question.)
(Oh, and is due to be reclaimed by the sea in a few decades because of global warming-induced rising seas, another problem that is not being addressed in the coastal “recovery.”)
And if you were, perhaps, a researcher of endangered species–maybe even the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker–wouldn’t you be pleased to know that developers could pull the same sort of stunt that the timber industry did in the 1940s, when it completely stripped clear the last confirmed habitat of Ivorybills?
Oh, sure, the Endangered Species Act would provide protection for areas where the birds are known to roost. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? They are hard to find, and with recent potential sightings in Arkansas and Florida, there’s a possibility that they might be in pockets all over the Gulf states. However, those two sightings are increasingly being called into question since the scientists involved have not produced good video or photography yet. If other potential areas are wiped out before the birds could even be found, it opens the floodgates for the areas in Arkansas and especially Florida to be given similar treatment.
And, from the same article, this is just disgusting:
Another part of the regulations, approved in coordination with other federal agencies and the White House, waives the formal environmental reviews entirely for coal companies when they bury or reroute streams with their mining wastes.
So okay, if your friendly neighborhood coal company decides to dump waste product in a stream, completely cutting off the flow of water with the trash, no one has to run it through any sort of review process.
I’ll make sure to drink bottled water when I am in Louisiana.
This bit of news was certainly a very unwelcome addition to my e-mail inbox this morning.
I have made this blog mostly about Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast, yes, but frankly, I’m tired of having so much material to write about.