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New Bill Requires Army Corps To Consider Green Infrastructure

Sediment pours out of a pipeline as part of Louisiana's Caminada Headland restoration project near Port Fourchon. A new federal bill will require the Corps to consider similar "green" projects when building infrastructure.

On Wednesday, congress passed America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which could encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to build more green infrastructure.

Infrastructure bills are fairly routine. Generally passed every couple years, they often approve lists of projects for things like river dredging or levees -- projects that the Corps builds.

New this year: a section that requires the Corps to consider “natural or nature-based” projects as alternatives if it wants to build something.

“So rather than building a seawall,” says Julie Hill-Gabriel, Vice President of Water Conservation at the National Audubon Society, “you’re thinking about restoring a coastal wetland or moving sediment from one place to another, that would more replicate a more natural defense.”

Hill Gabriel says the bill “is really moving things in the right direction.”

The bill also recommends studying the idea of moving the Corps out of the Department of Defense, and into a different federal department -- something Congressman Garret Graves, who represents Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District, has been pushing for.

The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk for final approval.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Louisiana, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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