Taking Umbrage

I am not an engineer and I could have written the editorial, “The Reshaping of New Orleans Is a National Problem”. My point is that the essay requires no knowledge of engineering. It is a political document.

Most disturbing is your diagnosis of the causes of New Orleans’s situation. All of your symptoms are attempts to lay blame on the local population. I can assure you that the poor decisions about levee design, oil and gas development, and “overdevelopment” were made by national institutions and individuals.  Also, the daily choices of Americans to build a national “culture” that serves mostly as a support system for cars and the consumption of fossil fuels are playing an enormous role in the destruction of my home city.

I can assure you that we New Orleanians have taken radical steps to change things here—reform of levee boards, local government, and the educational system are the most obvious examples. I have seen zero attempts at radical reform within the federal government or international corporations that have contributed so mightily to this tragedy.  While you drone on, places like Sacramento and St. Louis remain vulnerable.

Trust Fund Works

Your editorial, Without New Thinking, the U.S. Will Drive on Dirt Roads, glossed over the easy solutions to the problems of our Highway Trust Fund (ENR 6/5 p. 80). It is high time the people we send to Congress recognize the old tried and true methods that have worked in the past, namely that federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels have built and maintained our Interstate system. Unfortunately, we now get into the politics of the issue, since the current administration seems to hate anything that suggests raising of taxes.