Today, President Bush is expected to veto the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA). The President’s expected fifth veto would cripple current and future work in the Gulf Coast that would protect millions of Americans from catastrophic hurricanes and floods. A presidential veto would slow efforts to protect sensitive areas like the Florida Everglades and Mississippi River, and negatively impact water quality improvements in every corner of the country. Democratic leaders in Congress have pledged to work to override the President’s veto and enact WRDA into law. Here are ten reasons why President Bush should not veto WRDA:
1. Improves Hurricane Protection for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. WRDA would help protect the Gulf Coast from dangerous storms like Hurricane Katrina. A veto by the President would prevent the restoration of coastal wetlands critical to protecting against storm damage, deny New Orleans increased hurricane protections, and prevent a peer review process of construction work performed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
2. Ensures levee safety. There are several thousand miles of levees across the country that provide critical flood protection to communities. A veto of WRDA would not only halt the creation of a national levee safety program, but also prevent inspections on the general condition of levees throughout the country.
3. Improves flood control. WRDA would provide for flood control projects to help local communities meet the increasing dangers posed by catastrophic flooding. The President’s veto of WRDA would deny New Orleanians and other Louisiana Gulf Coast residents 100-year flood protection and hamper the ability of the Secretary of the Army to act quickly on critical flood control projects. The veto also would further delay critically-needed flood protection for Sacramento, which is the nation’s largest metropolitan area with less than 100-year flood protection.
4. Continues restoration for the Florida Everglades and helps restore the coastal wetlands of Louisiana. President’s Bush’s veto of WRDA would harm efforts to restore wetlands that provide multiple benefits to coastal communities and the environment. The Florida Everglades, which are one of the world’s largest wetland areas, protect Florida from hurricanes and provide wildlife habitat to thousands of plant and animal species. WRDA would also restore Louisiana’s naturally-protective and ecologically-significant coastal wetlands. These wetlands are critical to Louisiana’s coastal fishing industry and serve as a protective barrier against storms like Hurricane Katrina.
5. Re-nourishes and restores beaches. Hurricanes and tropical storms can erode beaches, which eliminates key natural defenses and, in time, can cause loss of life and extensive property damage. A veto of WRDA would delay the restoration of beaches that have been damaged by “storm surges” and put coastal communities at continued risk.
6. Addresses the spread of aquatic invasive species. The spread of aquatic invasive species, from both inside and outside the United States, can cause serious harm to natural ecosystems and water supply and treatment systems. A presidential veto of WRDA could exacerbate the spread of aquatic invasive species and needlessly jeopardize countless aquatic ecosystem restoration projects.
7. Mandates independent fiscal and environmental reviews. The failures of the levees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina highlighted the need for independent reviews of Army Corps projects. The President’s veto of WRDA would mean independent parties would not be in a position to offer recommendations that could improve project models, provide environmental benefits, and save money.
8. Averts further shoreline and streambank degradation. The loss of shoreline and streambank quality can have serious negative impacts on wildlife habitats, increase water pollution, and threaten recreational areas. A veto of WRDA would deny much-needed help to state and local governments to protect pristine areas of the country.
9. Improves shipping on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River and its tributaries are vital waterways that are used to ship goods across the country, especially agricultural products from the heartland. A veto of WRDA could impair shipping on the Mississippi River and would block efforts to address the cumulative environmental impact of operation of the system.
10. Increases oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers. The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended an allocation of approximately $5.4 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for Fiscal Year 2008. The President’s veto would prevent increased oversight of the Army Corps by denying public access to water resources (and water quality) data, preventing the Secretary of the Army from preparing a set of wide-ranging accountability reports, and eliminating plans to make copies of relevant documents available on the Internet.