Groups Tell Corps to Plan Faster and Protect Communities

Coalition Calls for Use of Stimulus Funding to Expedite MRGO Restoration Planning

03-11-2009 // NWF Staff

New Orleans, LA - Organizations throughout the nation are calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to utilize stimulus funding to ensure that implementation of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet restoration plan can begin by late 2010.

"MRGO restoration planning is alarmingly behind schedule. This is unacceptable given the dire importance of the project to protect levees and communities on the east side of New Orleans. Great frustration is building everyday over this lack of action," explained Amanda Moore, Coastal Louisiana Organizer for National Wildlife Federation and member of the MRGO Must Go Coalition.

The MRGO channel, built in 1965 by the Corps, is linked to the catastrophic storm surge that flooded New Orleans in 2005. In 2007, Congress called for the May 2008 completion of a comprehensive plan to address saltwater intrusion and other ecosystem damage caused by the MRGO. Although physical closure of the channel has recently begun, the Corps currently projects that a plan for restoration will not be completed until May 2010.

"The Corps received $25 million for investigations through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," said Melissa Samet, Senior Director of Water Resources at American Rivers. "The Obama Administration named MRGO as a high priority for the FY2010 draft presidential budget outline. The Corps is two years behind schedule. They should use additional stimulus funding to move this important project forward."

The MRGO Must Go Coalition, a group of environmental, community, and social justice organizations, is urging the public to visit www.MRGOmustGO.org to send a thank you message to the President and urge him to hold the Corps of Engineers to Congressionally mandated deadlines to restore Louisiana’s coast and protect South Louisiana communities.

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