U.S. Sen. David Vitter today sent a letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials urging them to complete the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Hurricane Protection and Restoration study by the 2012 hurricane season. Congressman Jeff Landry (La.-03) signed on to Sen. Vitter's letter.
"Following Hurricane Rita, Congress authorized a feasibility study to determine how best to protect the parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion. Six years and millions in taxpayer dollars later, the Corps still hasn't completed the study, and actually terminated the project," Vitter said. "We're supporting the state officials who want to continue the study and determine how best to protect the region by working together with the Corps to complete it."
Vitter is having a conference call today with Corps officials to discuss the status of the study. Rep. Jeff Landry and possibly others will participate in the call.
The text of their letter is below.
December 14, 2011
VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUESTED
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0108
Major General Merdith "Bo" Temple
Acting Chief of Engineers
Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20314-1000
Dear Secretary Darcy and Major General Temple:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, Congress authorized the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Hurricane Protection and Restoration study to determine the feasibility of providing hurricane protection and storm damage reduction measures for the parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron, and Vermilion. As you know, Section 7010 of WRDA 2007 authorized the Secretary of the Army to expedite completion of the study report and if feasible, proceed directly to project preconstruction engineering and design. Six years and millions in taxpayer dollars later, the Corps still has not completed the study and has effectively terminated the project due to a lack of federal funds, thus furthering the risk to our coastal population, infrastructure, economy, and ecosystem.
We are nearly 6 months away from the start of another hurricane season, and while Louisiana has been fortunate in the past few years in avoiding catastrophic disasters like that of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, we cannot stress the crucial importance of continuing and completing this very important study in an expeditious manner. As you know, the final Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Report (LACPR) was submitted to Congress on June 29, 2010 and though it did not contain any specific project recommendations, as required by law, it does contain enough data and technical information to help further the Southwest study along without reinventing the wheel. We encourage you to use the LACPR to assist in the completion this study before the start of the 2012 hurricane season.
Lastly, it is our understanding that the State of Louisiana is petitioning your office for permission to continue the study under the authority of Section 211 of WRDA 1996. While we fully support the state's efforts, we remain concerned about the ability of the Corps to reimburse local sponsors for work that is clearly a federal responsibility. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices. We look forward to your response and action on how to best affect a solution to this critical issue.
David Vitter Jeff Landry
United States Senator Member of Congress