Editor’s Note: A guest post by Garret Graves, the former head of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and a candidate for Congress from the 6th District of Louisiana.
About a month ago, there was an armed standoff in Nevada when the federal government tried to remove a rancher’s cattle from western grazing lands. In that case, it was federal land, the rancher had not paid his grazing fees for years and the guy made some inappropriate comments regarding race. There was a lot of blame to go around.
In Louisiana today, the situation is more alarming. In our case, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying to take private property from dozens of law-abiding, tax-paying farmers and other landowners. These folks do not want to sell their property. Under the federal proposal, this land would be removed from parish tax rolls while farming and other economic activity would come to a halt. The Corps wants to flood this private property to create wetlands.
Perhaps the Corps of Engineers hasn’t been paying attention, but Louisiana has lost over 1900 square miles of coastal wetlands – now open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Why not go build wetlands there rather than shutting down farms and taking people’s private property? In fact, Congress authorized and directed the Corps of Engineers to advance the restoration of thousands of acres of our coast and the agency has failed to put the first shovel in the ground. If the Corps would simply put two and two together, they could build wetlands, advance their long-stalled projects, provide fish and waterfowl habitat and help to temper storm surge affecting south Louisiana communities – a win-win-win-win.
One would think that the federal agency that finally took responsibility for Hurricane Katrina failures would try to restore the public’s confidence rather than double-down on bone-headed land grabs like this one.
What’s worse is that this isn’t just a one-time deal. We have seen years of comparable stupidity and confused priorities out of the Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies. While the IRS is conducting illegal and politically-motivated audits, our veterans are being mistreated, innocent Americans calls and emails are monitored by NSA and a majority of recent trade deficits were attributable to importing oil from enemy nations rather than paying American workers to produce it here at home. While billions of dollars in taxpayer funds are being wasted on these flawed federal initiatives, we’re sitting in some of the nation’s worst traffic due to insufficient infrastructure investment.
If the Nevada situation resulted in an armed standoff, what happens when the feds are really wrong? Clearly, these types of federal government actions are not what the American revolutionaries had in mind. I have fought and won against the federal bureaucracy and we can win this one too. We need many more big wins to get America back on the track of principles that made this country great. One congressional seat at a time, we’re going to make it happen.