Will Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Damaging River Deepening Project?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) flawed final analysis shows that the proposed deepening of the Savannah River in Georgia would be a $650 million waste of valuable public resources and leave the river forever dependent on giant mechanical lungs, according to comments submitted on June 5 to the Corps by the Southern Environmental Law Center. The law center submitted comments on behalf of the Savannah Riverkeeper, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation and Center for a Sustainable Coast.
In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Corps continues to assert that deepening the Savannah River has nothing to do with maintaining or increasing business for the Savannah port terminal contrary to claims made by the Georgia Ports Authority. If the terminal’s business is unaffected by the proposed deepening and would continue to grow without it, the conservation groups point out that spending $650 million—much of it in taxpayer funds—to deepen the river and irreparably harm the river system is unnecessary and wasteful.
If the Georgia Ports Authority and its supporters are right that deepening is needed to grow its underlying business, then the Corps’ underlying assumption is incorrect and the Corps’ analysis must be redone as it fails to examine the environmental impact and risks of a busier port.
The conservation groups also highlight the need for a competitive comparison of deepening Atlantic ports before this project is permitted to ensure the best investment of public funds and minimize damage to natural resources and misspending.
An expert examination of the Corps’ site-specific study shows that it mistakenly attributed general cost-saving benefits from larger ships enabled by the Panama Canal expansion to deepening the Savannah River. Cost-savings specific to the deepening of the Savannah River are substantially less. According to experts, the Corps’ analysis also ignores that larger ships already on order will not be able to access the Savannah port even if the river is deepened. Another question raised is who would benefit from deepening the Savannah River with U.S. public funds since expected benefits to imports exceed expected benefits to exports.
Until the Corps fully analyze regional deepening alternatives for accommodating the larger class of container vessels, $650 million should not be sunk into deepening a 38 mile stretch of the Savannah River.
The proposed river deepening itself raises substantial concerns over harm to the river system and life dependent on its health. Among the major concerns of deepening are lower oxygen levels in the river that compromise river life and create complications for industrial dischargers upstream and seasonal dead zones compounded by salt water intrusion further into the river.
Given the expected damage from lower oxygen levels after deepening, the Corps’ plans to put the Savannah River forever on giant mechanical respirators—known as Speece cones—that inject oxygen into the river.
Additional comments from the groups follow:
“The Corps’ report sinks itself, under the weight of fundamental flaws for a proposal to waste $650 million on putting the Savannah River on life support for no benefit to port business,” said Chris DeScherer, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents the groups. “Until the Corps assesses the best regional bang for federal taxpayer buck, it’d be irresponsible to move forward with this $650 million deepening that will result in significant damage to the river and communities.”
“The disagreement between the Corps report and the GPA’s public statements highlights how broken this process has become,” said Steve Eames, director of the S.C. Coastal Conservation League’s South Coast Office. “It’s incumbent on the GPA with the Corps to explain why their economic growth projections for 47 feet justify the level of environmental damage the Corps findings indicate will occur: there remain many unanswered questions.”
“Decisions about this project are premature at best and, as a result, proceeding without preparation and review of extensive additional information would waste millions of dollars in tax-payer’s money and be environmentally irresponsible,” said David Kyler, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast. “SELC’s comments on the EIS are extremely well-considered in defending the public interest on a wide array of issues raised by the Savannah harbor deepening."
By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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