The Pelican Project is for the Birds


With an obvious tin ear to the anger directed at the state's misuse of levee and Homeland Security funds and its pervasive corruption, the Louisiana congressional delegations has tagged on at least $10 billion in pure pork projects in its breathtaking request for $250 billion for hurricane relief. Naturally, these funds will require no contribution by the residents of that state though the funds are to be allocated and overseen(and using this word in connection with allocation of federal funds in Louisiana must have a unique meaning in the patois of the bayou) by a panel dominated by state residents.

Louisiana's congressional delegation has requested $40 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, about 10 times the annual Corps budget for the entire nation, or 16 times the amount the Corps has said it would need to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane.

Louisiana Sens. David Vitter (R) and Mary Landrieu (D) tucked the request into their $250 billion Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act, the state's opening salvo in the scramble for federal dollars.

The bill, unveiled last week, would create a powerful "Pelican Commission" controlled by Louisiana residents that would decide which Corps projects to fund, and ordered the commission to consider several controversial navigation projects that have nothing to do with flood protection. The Corps section of the Louisiana bill, which was supported by the entire state delegation, was based on recommendations from a "working group" dominated by lobbyists for ports, shipping firms, energy companies and other corporate interests.

The bill would exempt any Corps projects approved by the commission from provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. It would also waive the usual Corps cost—sharing requirements, ensuring that federal taxpayers would pay every dime.

With the public eager to help Katrina's victims, President Bush and Congress.

It's a preposterous idea though the name is apt. Pelican scoop up fish in their bills don't they?

Clarice Feldman   9 26 05