03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

New Orleans: "We're Trying to Get a Real Commitment"

As President Obama prepares for his four-hour visit to New Orleans tomorrow, he could do worse than to call Nancy Sutley, the director of his Council on Environmental Quality, and ask her for the Lake Ponchartrain Foundation's report.  The report, released yesterday, lists the specific projects necessary for a basic restoration of coastal wetlands that buffer New Orleans from the severity of approaching hurricanes. 

The only project of any size the report praises for having been completed is, ironically, the closure of the MRGO canal that critics long predicted would funnel dangerous storm surge into the heart of New Orleans.  It's widely blamed for doing exactly that during the Katrina event.  The Corps of Engineers, while denying that assertion, bowed to the will of Congress and closed the canal.

Other projects rated as urgent languish for lack of federal funding. 

...the cost of a river diversion into the Maurepas Swamp could total nearly $150 million.

"What we're trying to get out of Obama is a commitment, a real commitment to that kind of funding," said Anne Rheams, the executive director of the foundation. "That's the only way it's ever going to happen."

Gee, $150 million...I guess that is asking a lot.  So is asking for "a real commitment"....But the town hall will be nice, and the school kids will be charming.