So the White House has stripped recommendations from the Corps’ report. That was a report that Congress directed the Corps to prepare on recommendations. Where exactly will Congress draw the line? Apparently it’s not with the administrations’s push for limitless executive power in conducting war and now this domestic issue. So just where is the line? From the Times Picayune
The Army Corps of Engineers, which was directed by Congress to prepare a report on how to protect Louisiana from a Category 5 hurricane, is poised to issue a vaguely-worded document that will not list the specific projects that would be needed to secure the state’s fragile coastline.
The report was to be issued Friday, but the corps postponed action until July 10 after several heated exchanges with representatives of Gov. Kathleen Blanco who say the Bush administration has inappropriately removed a list of specific projects that corps engineers had included in the document’s initial draft.
Instead of listing the projects, a draft of the report shown to state officials merely outlined a “decision matrix” the administration would use to decide how to pick projects in the future to protect Louisiana.
In a letter to Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley Friday, Blanco coastal adviser Sidney Coffee was critical of a White House “policy review (that) resulted in the rewriting of the entire executive summary and much of the report, without consultation with the Corps/State Project Delivery Team.”
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who authored the language requiring the report, said missing the deadline “would be cause for concern entirely on its own.
“But even more troubling is that this delay appears to be the result of highly unusual attempts” to strip from the report the recommendations of corps engineers.
“We are looking to the corps to present their best analysis of what steps need to be taken to protect the people, communities and national infrastructure along Louisiana ‘s coast — not another policy paper from the administration,” Landrieu said in a statement.
The state and corps have been working on the initial report for about six months <b<in response to a congressional requirement that the corps produce a fast-track study on how to protect the state from Category 5 hurricanes.
But three weeks ago, the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army sent the state and New Orleans corps office a rewritten version of the report, state officials said.
The rewrite stripped out recommendations jointly made by the corps and the state to ask Congress to authorize the beginning of design work on a barrier plan using larger levees and gates to block storm surge from entering Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, and other major projects, according to Coffee and Department of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Randy Hanchey.
Coffee said that language is at variance with what she terms the clear direction of Congress in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to expedite the recommendation of a system of protection from larger storms that would be coordinated with restoration efforts and that would be exempt from the corps’ traditional cost-benefit analyses in determining whether it was justified. (emphasis mine)
UPDATE: Bush has Never supported the building of Category 5 levees. (Oyster has the run down on that.)
The message is….
Don’t Recommend it
Don’t Plan it
Don’t even Think about it
Move along. Nothing to see here