Last week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing at the request of Senators Landrieu and Vitter, entitled, “New Orleans Hurricane and Flood Protection and Coastal Louisiana Restoration: Status and Progress.”You can watch the archived hearing here: hearing includes statements and questions from Senators Landrieu, Vitter and Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (pictured), as well as witnesses Steven Peyronin from the GRN member organization and Louisiana coastal restoration advocacy lead organization Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Robert Twilley from LSU, Tom Jackson from the SE Flood Control Authority, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General Michael Walsh.The Senators all went after the Brigadier General pretty intensely, and much of the question and answer is focused on the New Orleans hurricane protection system, such as flood walls and pumping options. There are some very good statements made about the importance of Louisiana’s vanishing coastal wetlands as natural storm defenses, but the heat of the hearing is focused on floodwalls.I’m glad to see the EPW Committee focusing on the issues surrounding the safety of New Orleans and South Louisiana, but I’m troubled that this hearing is indicative of the overall approach to protecting our communities – lipservice to the coast and time, focus and resources to levees. The levees will never be big enough, built fast enough, or far reaching enough for our communities unless and until the coast is secured and the land loss is reversed. As eyes turn to the Corps’ LACPR (Category 5 plan), I am afraid this trend will continue.Aaron Viles is GRN’s Campaign Director

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