Army Engineers try to avoid paying $3 billion to restore damage from mistake

The U.S. Justice Department on October 26, 2015 appealed a New Orleans federal judge’s decision that the Army Corps of Engineers must pay the full $3 billion cost of restoring wetlands destroyed by the agency’s improper construction and maintenance of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (“MR-GO”) shipping shortcut.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk ruled on Aug. 27 that the corps was improperly trying to stick the state with 35 percent of the restoration cost.

The corps had refused to begin the complex project to restore wetlands and ridges destroyed by the now-closed shipping shortcut from the Gulf of Mexico to the Industrial Canal in New Orleans when the state declined to pay a share of the cost, and Africk ruled that that refusal and the bill were in violation of Congressional intent.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina vital ecosystem restoration remains incomplete,” Africk wrote. “Rather than abide by the clear intent of Congress and begin immediate implementation of a plan to restore that which the corps helped destroy, defendants arbitrarily and capriciously misconstrued their clear mandate to restore an ecosystem ravaged by the MR-GO.

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