The price of gas first spiked up to the $3.00 per gallon zone in the United States in September of 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. Even though the storm lost some of it's strength from it's peak before it made landfall, it still caused an enormous amount of damage. There were a number of reasons for the damage, several of the which can be traced back to the actions of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The structural failure the levees in New Orleans is easily the most obvious. The evidence after the disaster indicated the strength of the storm that actually hit the city was below what the levees had been supposedly designed to withstand. However, even the storm surge that hit the city was well above what would happened from a comparable storm a century ago. That's because much of the wetlands that had existed in the Gulf Coast region have been destroyed. They have been drained by water from the Mississippi River being diverted. In the past, those wetlands would have absorbed much of the storm surge just like a giant sponge. Without the wetlands the storm surge has more of a direct path to the area of New Orleans and many other communities along the Gulf Coast.

Continue reading after the jump

[Source:MSNBC]

Now the Corps of Engineers is proposing easing the rules on filling in wetlands along the gulf coast in Mississippi. They are claiming that the reason is to aid recovery from the hurricane. There is a large housing demand in the area because so many homes were completely destroyed during the storm. Developers in the region are complaining about the permitting process, slowing down the rebuilding process. This makes no sense though because there were already homes on the land before and those areas should be able to be rebuilt without filling in wetlands.

The destruction of wetlands was such a large cause of the damage, that filling in more would be idiotic. If anything the rebuilding should be moving further inland so that wetlands can be restored. Any proposal by the Corps of Engineers to reduce regulation of wetlands should absolutely be stopped. In fact, the Corps should probably be re-structured and the protection of the wetlands should be put in someone else's hands. The cost of destroying wetlands is clear. No one should be filling in any wetlands especially along the Gulf Coast. The focus needs to be taken off of preventing the Mississippi from flooding. Rivers are supposed to flood. Wetlands exist for a reason. If we don't protect them, the cost to all of us will ultimately be much higher than some lost short-term profit opportunities, as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina so clearly demonstrated.


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