‘Louisiana Withholding Flood Funding from New Orleans’ in Abortion Disagreement

On August 22 2022, an Imgur account shared a screenshot of the following tweet, which claimed that the state of Louisiana was withholding flood funding from New Orleans in an abortion-related disagreement — just as the anniversary of 2005’s destructive Hurricane Katrina was approaching:

The tweet included no link to any news supporting the claim, and it used the euphemism “a woman’s right to choose” in lieu of “abortion.” It read in full:

Louisiana is withholding $39 million in flood funding from New Orleans because city officials believe in a woman’s right to choose

Let’s be very clear

Republicans are hurting flood victims cuz of women’s reproductive rights

Call it what it bloody is: EXTORTION

In May 2022 (prior to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade), we addressed a “trigger law” in the state of Louisiana, and its implication for usage of birth control:

Separately, the city of New Orleans is notoriously vulnerable to storm surges and flooding — making the claim in the tweet much more pointed:

The site of the city was originally very low in relation to sea level, but human interference has caused the city to sink even lower. When New Orleans was being constructed they ran out of good land. To make more room, engineers drained swamplands around the area so they could continue expansion. This drainage led to subsidence. Subsidence is sinking or settling to a lower level, in this case it was the earth’s surface sinking lower in relation to sea level. This sinking effect has led to present day New Orleans being, on average, six feet below sea level.

Further compounding this problem is the construction of levees. New Orleans is situated between the levees along the Mississippi River, and those around Lake Pontchartrain. This situation leaves New Orleans with a “bowl” effect. Due to this “bowl” effect, once water gets into the city, it is very difficult to get it out.

In May 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued guidance on the coming 2022 hurricane season. It warned that the “the impact of one storm can be felt for years,” explaining:

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, are predicting above-average hurricane activity this year [2022] — which would make it the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season. NOAA’s outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30 [2022], predicts a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.

For the 2022 hurricane season, NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.

As for the state withholding flood funding from New Orleans, an August 19 2022 Politico.com article confirmed that the state had withheld $39 million in flood-related funding due to the city’s position on abortion:

A Louisiana commission is withholding approval of New Orleans flood control funds over city officials’ opposition to the state’s strict abortion ban.

The Louisiana State Bond Commission has twice voted to delay approval of a future $39 million line of credit for a power station to run New Orleans drainage pumps that would protect the city’s 384,000 residents from flooding and have been described as critical for the city’s ability to adapt to climate change.

Both votes, each taken at times when New Orleans was under an active flood advisory, have been at the urging of Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is enraged by city officials’ response to the near-total abortion ban.

“This is them coming right out to the rest of the citizens of the state saying, ‘We don’t care what your law is,'” Landry said at [an August 18 2022] commission meeting … Landry called such moves a “dereliction of duty,” with the potential 2023 gubernatorial candidate telling the commission it should “use the tools at our disposal to bring them to heel, quite frankly.”

An August 20 2022 CNN.com article reported:

Louisiana’s State Bond Commission denied funding [on August 18 2022] for a $39 million infrastructure project in Orleans Parish for the second time, at the behest of state Attorney General Jeff Landry, according to a statement on Landry’s official Facebook page and video posted from the bond commission meeting.

Independent.co.uk covered the dispute, adding:

The Louisiana State Bond Commission, at the urging of Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, voted 7-6 on 18 August to delay approval for funding that New Orleans officials earmarked for a power plant to support drainage pumps that remove rainwater during storms.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement that she is “disappointed, but not surprised, by the manufactured crisis of the attorney general, who has once again delayed critical infrastructure funding in the middle of hurricane season.”

An August 18 2022 Facebook statement from the verified page for the office of the Louisiana Attorney General alluded to the decision:

The officials in New Orleans took an oath of office to support and enforce the laws of our State, yet they have decided that some laws are not worthy of enforcement.

In light of the City’s open defiance of the will of the people of Louisiana, I continue to my efforts on the State Bond Commission.

Today was another step toward ensuring the parishes and municipalities of our State comply with the laws of our State.

A popular August 21 2022 tweet by Lindy Li claimed that Louisiana hadwithheld flood funding ($39 million) from New Orleans, citing city officials’ opposition to Louisiana’s nearly-total ban on abortion. The claim is true, and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry encouraged commission members to “use the tools at [their] disposal to bring [New Orleans] to heel, quite frankly.”

A refusal to release millions in flood mitigation funding to a city that has been previously devastated by hurricane-related flooding in recent memory, citing unrelated political goals as the reason amid catastrophic climate change, can be best described a clear example of ideologically-driven resilience targeting.