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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Hurricane Season Is Here, Now

05/31/09

President Obama will keep the broken promises to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur. Within weeks of his inauguration, he made a renewed commitment to partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever. —WhiteHouse.gov

We’re marking the first day of hurricane season by calling attention to two pieces of legislation in Congress that could, with popular support, become enacted and result in jobs and new infrastructure along the Gulf Coast. We’re also wondering when our busy president is going to turn his attention to New Orleans and other communities along the Gulf Coast stricken by hurricanes and endangered by coastal erosion and weakened flood protection systems. We know he’s had his hands full, but we’ve been waiting.

First the good news: As Bob Herbert mentioned in his New York Times column last week, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro and others have introduced a bill to establish a national infrastructure development bank that would use public and private capital to finance regional and national projects. This is an idea put forward by Barack Obama in February 2008 [See “Barack, You’re Totally Our Infrastructure Hero” (2/15/08), below.] We’ll be following this story in the weeks and months to come. We hope to see the legislation enacted, though we have some reservations about it.

A second piece of good news is that, as reported by Jonathan Tilove in the Times-Picayune, proposed legislation for a Gulf Coast Civic Works Act has gained the support of Louisiana representatives Charlie Melancon and Republicans Anh “Joseph” Cao and Rodney Alexander, among about a dozen others. The 73-page legislation would create about 100,000 environmentally sustainable jobs and training positions and is designed to help displaced or unemployed Gulf Coast residents return to their former homes and rebuild their damaged communities. A senate sponsor is needed, and we are urging our readers to call Senator Mary Landrieu (504-589-2427; 202-224-5824) and urge her to get behind the bill. Call Senator David Vitter, too (504-589-2753; 202-224-4623); he wouldn’t be the first Louisiana Republican to support the legislation.



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