RL33597 - Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO): Issues for Congress
4-Aug-2006; Nicole T. Carter, Charles V. Stern; 14 p.
Abstract: The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO, or Outlet) is an element in the
navigation network of the Mississippi River that connects the Gulf of Mexico to
navigation facilities in central New Orleans. The MRGO, which was constructed
by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in the 1960s, is a 76-mile man-made, deepdraft
navigation channel built to expedite travel; it is 40 miles shorter than traveling
the Mississippi River between the Gulf and New Orleans. Interest in whether, and
how, to decommission the congressionally authorized MRGO increased in the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The MRGO engendered controversy prior to its construction and continues to
be the subject of debate. Most recently, some stakeholders are pressing Congress to
close the Outlet; they argue that its current economic benefits are exceeded by its
costs, especially when the costs include its role in both the loss of coastal wetlands
and potential augmentation of hurricane damage in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes.
Since Hurricane Katrina, there has been little opposition to closing the MRGO. For
the most part, MRGO navigation supporters take the position that, if Congress
deauthorizes MRGO for deep-draft navigation, federal funding should be provided
to mitigate the economic impact to the deep-draft businesses that used the Outlet.
Topics: Government, Water, Wetlands