State conservation group commends decision to hold Corps liable for MRGO wetlands restoration

State conservation group commends decision to hold Corps liable for MRGO wetlands restoration

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation applauds a recent ruling that holds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers solely liable for the restoration of wetlands destroyed by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO).

"This is a big win for the greater New Orleans area and the state of Louisiana," said Rebecca Triche, executive director for Louisiana Wildlife Federation (LWF). "The MRGO destroyed wetlands that are critical in protecting New Orleans and the surrounding area from storm surge and this decision signals an end to delays in moving forward with restoration."

On August 27, 2015, a federal judge ruled the Corps is fully responsible for the $3 billion restoration project. The Corps had tried to argue that the state of Louisiana was liable for 35% of the project. Judge Lance Africk disagreed.

The Louisiana Wildlife Federation says Congress deauthorized the MRGO in 2007 and ordered the Corps to come up with a plan to restore critical wetlands lost or damaged by the canal. The Corps submitted a $2.9 billion plan in 2012 to get the job done, but it's been on hold over the issue of who would pay for it.

Triche also stated, "Louisiana Wildlife Federation urges the Corps and the Department of Justice to not appeal Judge Africk's decision. As we stand at the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are somberly reminded of the destruction a hurricane can cause and the vulnerability of the communities that rely on levees and a protective marsh and wetlands ecosystem between them and the Gulf.  Nearly $15 billion has been invested in the Greater New Orleans Hurricane Protection System. The Corps can strengthen this investment by restoring the MRGO ecosystem. LWF urges the Administration, Congress and the Corps to work together quickly toward starting this critical restoration work."

LWF has been a member of the 'MRGO Must Go' Coalition since its inception.

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