Louisiana coastal agency threatens to sue local government

June 20, 2018 - 8:27 pm
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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said Wednesday that it will sue if a local government keeps blocking a step needed to decide where to build a proposed project to use Mississippi River sediment to build wetlands.

The agency's board gave Plaquemines Parish until July 29 to allow soil borings in the Mississippi River levee near Ironton, south of New Orleans.

"We believe sediment diversions in Plaquemines Parish and other areas are vital to the future of Louisiana and the protection of populated areas in Southeast Louisiana," Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry said in a news release. "We have no animus toward Plaquemines Parish, but we have an obligation to the people of Louisiana to pursue projects that have the greatest potential to sustain our ability to continue living and working here."

Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier III said the agency's plans are based on flawed science, and its board refused to let him speak at Wednesday's meeting or to accept copies of two studies he says prove his point.

He says one, published in 2014, shows that a freshwater diversion near Fort St. Philip increased wetland loss over 52 years.

The other, Cormier said, shows that the roots holding together freshwater marsh don't hold the earth together as strongly as those in brackish and salt water marsh and will fail under hurricane storm surge. But it said CPRA's model doesn't take such "vegetative dynamics" into account.

He said that study showed that Hurricane Katrina wiped out 40 percent of the wetlands in three areas, all of which had freshwater diversions.

He said the board wants to experiment on Plaquemines Parish, since the project is far bigger than any previous diversion work.

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