Mississippi Paper Says Justice Dept. Trying to Blame Environmentalists for New Orleans Flood

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By: E&P Staff

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys’ offices. Reporter Jerry Mitchell?s conclusion: ?Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.?

He quotes from the e-mail: “Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation.”

Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, told the reporter Thursday she couldn’t comment “because it’s an internal e-mail.”

Shown a copy of the e-mail, David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club, asked why the officials were ?trying to smear us like this?” He added: “It’s unfortunate that the Bush administration is trying to shift the blame to environmental groups. It doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Federal officials told Mitchell the e-mail was prompted by a congressional inquiry but wouldn’t comment further.

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