New Orleans leaders long believed that the city’s safety lay in draining the soggy mud sponge it was built on. But as it drained, it also shrank, pulling most of the city below sea level. Officials now say the best way to control the damage roiling the area is by keeping that sponge full. First, they need a way to monitor what’s happening below.
These are nervous times for some supporters of the RESTORE Act, the law that will divert 80 percent of the fines BP will pay for polluting the Gulf of Mexico from the federal purse to projects intended to restore the Gulf ecosystem and economy. They want to ensure that big money will pay for big projects.
A state emergency official said the system will be “basically meaningless” to him during a major storm because the most reliable maps can not be issued until after he must order evacuations. And a UNO researcher who is expert on the risks facing communities on Louisiana’s sinking coast worries some of the maps could give residents a false sense of security.
On Monday BP released a statement claiming the environment of the northern Gulf of Mexico had returned its “baseline condition” five years after its Deepwater Horizon disaster pumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf off Louisiana’s coast. But on Tuesday the U.S. Coast Guard was supervising the ongoing removal of a large oil tar mat on East Grand Terre Island that has yielded more than 25,000 pounds of oil mixed with sand since late February, a BPO spokesman confirmed.
It's a peculiar position for those who make their livings and live their lives around the fishing culture of St. Bernard Parish: They say that a post-Katrina rock dam restricting the waterway, which flooded the parish, is hurting their business. But scientists say it's a return to a natural balance that was upset when the canal was dredged.