Federal Judge Orders Army Corps of Engineers to Pay $3 Billion for Long-Delayed Restoration of Mississippi Channel that Contributed to Katrina Damage

Monday, August 31, 2015
Chalmette, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina (photo: Infrogmation, Wikipedia)

A federal judge has confirmed what Congress clearly ordered—the Army Corps of Engineers must foot the entire bill for restoring Louisiana wetlands destroyed by the improper construction of a canal.


The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal (MR-GO) was completed in 1968 as a shortcut to the New Orleans waterfront from the Gulf of Mexico. But the canal, which had widened to 2,000 feet in some places because of erosion caused by ship traffic, allowed the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina to breach New Orleans’ levees and flood the city.


Congress in 2007 ordered the 72-mile MR-GO canal closed and the surrounding wetlands restored. The Corps complied with the order to close the canal, but balked at the restoration, claiming that the state of Louisiana was responsible for 35% of the cost, which is estimated at $3 billion.


Louisiana fought back and a U.S. District Court agreed, ruling that Congress intended the Corps of Engineers to pay the full cost of restoration.


“We are very pleased with the Court's decision in this matter, which will provide substantial benefits to coastal Louisiana and will protect important state taxpayer dollars,” Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell told The New Orleans Times-Picayune.  “With this ruling, I am confident the project will be completed to protect our state’s fragile ecosystem, which is essential for the safety and well-being of Louisiana residents.”


It’s possible that the Corps will appeal the ruling, which will further delay the reconstruction of the wetlands, which are degrading by the day. Congress would also have to appropriate the money for the fix.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Judge: Corps Must Pay Full $3 Billion Cost of Restoring MR-GO Wetlands (by Mark Schleifstein, New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Feds Must Pay $3B for Eco Project, Judge Says (by Sabrina Canfield, Courthouse News Service)

Judge: Congress Was Clear — The Cost Of Restoring Wetlands Damaged by MR-GO Must Be Borne Entirely by the Corps of Engineers (by Amy Wold, The Advocate)

State of Louisiana vs. Army Corps of Engineers

Federal Judge Holds Army Corps Responsible for Katrina Flooding (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


metairiemike 8 years ago
The Corps is responsible only because they followed the directions of the Congress and the Louisiana delegation in Washington. The Corps never initiates projects and they never take on a project without the consent of the local governing authority. Land acquisition, permits, money, etc. all have to be authorized by the state the project is in and Congress. Holding the Corps responsible for redoing the marsh is like suing yourself: you take the money out of one pocket and stuff it into the other - minus the legal fees. Congress now has to take money from someone else to give the corps the money to do the work.
William Rothschild 8 years ago
I'm glad they're finally being held responsible since they're the ones who blew up the levees during hurricane Katrina to flood the city.

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