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New Orleans Levees System Petition

Our Mission: Secure the passage of a New Orleans Levees Bill in Congress

The ultimate goal of the Save Big Easy Organization is to aid in the recovery of the great city of New Orleans. Among the plethora of challenges currently facing the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the most pressing is rebuilding New Orleans levees. Without a much stronger level of protection, settlement and investment in New Orleans will severely dissipate.

Our mission involves three goals:

1) To secure the passage of a bill in Congress that will authorize and finance the construction of a comprehensive, Category 5 hurricane and flood protection system for New Orleans. By comprehensive, we mean stronger levees, restored wetlands, improved storm surge barriers, and other vital measures to protect the city.

2) Furthermore, We envision a bill that provides $20 billion dollars to a New Orleans Levee Commission, headed by a Levee Czar, which will have the power to rise above petty political squabbles in order to upgrade the levees in the most competent, efficient manner possible.

3) Finally, we seek the creation of an independent oversight board that will report to the federal government and will ensure that funds are spent appropriately.

View New Orleans Levees Petition Comments

Why Rebuild New Orleans Levees after Hurricane Katrina?

After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the floods that the storm brought into New Orleans, some questioned the merits of rebuilding the city. Skeptics balked at the city’s plight and pointed to reconstruction costs, the city’s geographic location, and even the city’s worth as reasons to abandon New Orleans. “We should be thinking about a gradual pullout of New Orleans,” said Tim Kusky, a professor of earth sciences at St. Louis University, in a November 20, 2005 interview on 60 Minutes. Detractors like Professor Kusky do not understand the importance of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to the United States both culturally and economically. New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the world and is truly in a class by itself. Its blend of Spanish, French, and African-American influences has it made a cultural gem in the American jewelry case of cities. Places like the French Quarter and the Garden District occupy a prominent place in American lore. New Orleans has an extremely rich culinary and musical tradition; it is the birthplace of jazz and early rhythm-and-blues.

For skeptics unconvinced of the need to rebuild New Orleans for its cultural accolades, the economic importance of the city is undeniable.

  • The Port of New Orleans is 4th busiest in the world, and the busiest in the United States.
  • The gross state product of Louisiana, of which New Orleans is prime contributor, is 1.2% of U.S. GDP.
  • Total employment in the New Orleans -Metairie- Kenner MSA was 616,000 in 2004, including 510,000 private-sector workers.
  • Maritime activity within the Port of New Orleans is responsible for more than 107,000 jobs, $2 billion in earnings, $13 billion in spending and $231 million in taxes in the state of Louisiana.
  • Port of New Orleans handles about 145 million short tons (132 million tonnes) of cargo a year. It is a leading port for the movement of imported steel and is the nation’s top port for imported natural rubber.
  • New Orleans is the nation’s premier coffee-handling port, with 14 warehouses, more than 5.5 million feet of storage space and six roasting facilities in a 20 mile radius. Two of the most modern bulk processing operations are located in New Orleans: Dupuy Storage and Forwarding Corp. (first in U.S.) and Silocaf of New Orleans, Inc. (world’s largest).
  • Finally, as the nation discovered after Katrina, New Orleans and Louisiana are of inestimable importance to the petroleum industry. Louisiana 's natural resources include 11 percent of U.S. petroleum reserves and 19 percent of the country's reserves of natural gas.
  • Louisiana has been the primary source of the nation's crude oil, second in production of the nation's natural gas, and second in total energy production. It has been the nation's second largest refiner of petroleum for consumer use as gasoline, plastic, and other petroleum-based products.

Some even use the argument that the U.S. government cannot afford to strengthen the New Orleans levees beyond a Category 3. This is simply not true. Monetary issues have never stopped the U.S. government, or the American people, from pursuing a course that they know to be right.

  • From 1948 to 1951, the U.S. spent $13 billion on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe. That is equivalent to $100 billion in 2005 dollars.
  • In the FY2006 federal budget that President Bush submitted to Congress, requests were made for $8.2 billion for core development assistance to other countries.
  • In addition, the President requested $3.2 billion to fight HIV/AIDS overseas and $3 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account.
  • Up to June 30, 2005, the federal government was spending $5.9 billion a month in Iraq alone!

This is not to say that any of these causes are undeserving of the funds they are receiving or received in the past; indeed many of them are very worthwhile. However, they do provide some perspective into how much money the government spends on foreign ventures. They also expose the immaturity of the argument that we cannot afford to spend the necessary money to upgrade the levee system design in New Orleans.

The United States cannot afford to lose a city as valuable as New Orleans. If New Orleans Levees are not rebuilt properly, then the long-term effects will be disastrous for American culture and the U.S. economy.

Help Upgrade New Orleans Levee System

The Importance of New Orleans Levee System

Many challenging issues confront the people of New Orleans; so why do we believe that rebuilding the levees are the most important right now? First and foremost, an upgraded levee system is the first and last line of defense for the citizens of New Orleans. If the levees are not improved, then it is the city’s poorest citizens who will be hurt the most, for they lack the means to escape if the levees fail. As John F. Kennedy said, “ If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” Moreover, a reliable, Category 5 hurricane - proof levee system is the key to the successful recovery of New Orleans. People and businesses will not return to New Orleans if they do not believe that the city is safe. No one will invest their future in a city that has not taken fundamental steps to protect itself from disaster. Sure reduced taxes and a favorable climate for business activity will lure some businesses to New Orleans . Ultimately, however, the foundation of any economy is security and few businesses will chance opening in a city that is just as vulnerable to flooding post-Katrina as it was pre-Katrina. The only sure was to protect the people and the property of New Orleans is to upgrade the levee system. Protecting New Orleans with a Category 5 levee system is the best way to lay the foundations for the city’s long-term recovery. Please sign our petition and make a difference.

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