0

PBS NewsHour Weekend full episode January 5, 2020


>>Sreenivasan: ON THIS EDITION FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 5: ESCALATING TENSIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST. AND IN OUR SPECIAL PERIL AND PROMISE SERIES WE CONTINUE OUR REPORTING ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER EXPLORING THE CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE. NEXT ON “PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND.”>>PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND IS MADEPOSSIBLE BY:BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ.SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.THE CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEINFAMILY.ROSALIND P. WALTER.BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.CHARLES ROSENBLUM.WE TRY TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT,TO NOT MISS WHAT’S RIGHT INFRONT OF US.AT MUTUAL OF AMERICA, WEBELIEVE TAKING CARE OF TOMORROWCAN HELP YOU MAKE THE MOST OFTODAY.MUTUAL OF AMERICA FINANCIALGROUP, RETIREMENT SERVICES ANDINVESTMENTS.ADDITIONAL SUPPORT HAS BEENPROVIDED BY:AND BY THE CORPORATION FORPUBLIC BROADCASTING, A PRIVATECORPORATION FUNDED BY THEAMERICAN PEOPLE.AND BY CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOURPBS STATION FROM VIEWERS LIKEYOU.THANK YOU.FROM THE TISCH WNET STUDIOS ATLINCOLN CENTER IN NEW YORK,HARI SREENIVASAN.>>Sreenivasan: GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US WE SEE THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT REPERCUSSIONS TONIGHT AFTER THE KILLING OF IRAN’S TOP GENERAL THIS WEEK. IRAN ANNOUNCED IT WILL NO LONGER ABIDE BY ANY LIMITS SET IN THE 2015 NUCLEAR DEAL. ON STATE-RUN TV, THE GOVERNMENT SAID IT WOULD NO LONGER LIMIT ITS ENRICHMENT OF URANIUM. THE DRONE ATTACK ALSO KILLED AN IRAQI MILITIA LEADER, AND THE IRAQI PARLIAMENT APPROVED A NON- BINDING RESOLUTION TO EXPEL ALL FOREIGN FORCES FROM THE COUNTRY. IN THE SPECIAL SESSION, A MAJORITY OF IRAQI LAWMAKERS PRESENT VOTED IN FAVOR BUT MANY SUNNI AND KURDISH MEMBERS DID NOT ATTEND. CARETAKER PRIME MINISTER ADEL ABDUL MAHDI, WHO RESIGNED LAST MONTH, TOLD LAWMAKERS “URGENT MEASURES” SHOULD BE TAKEN TO REMOVE FOREIGN TROOPS. ABOUT 5,000 U.S. TROOPS REMAIN IN IRAQ. TODAY THE U.S.-LED MILITARY COALITION COMBATING ISIS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA ANNOUNCED THAT IT HAS PAUSED ITS TRAINING MISSION IN IRAQ AND IS NOW FOCUSED ON PROTECTING ITS BASES FROM ATTACK. IN A STRING OF TWEETS LAST NIGHT, PRESIDENT TRUMP THREATENED RETALIATION IF IRAN STRIKES BACK AT AMERICAN TARGETS, SAYING, “WE HAVE TARGETED 52 IRANIAN SITES… SOME AT A VERY HIGH LEVEL AND IMPORTANT TO IRAN AND THE IRANIAN CULTURE.” ON ALL FIVE SUNDAY MORNING POLITICAL TALK SHOWS, SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, DEFLECTED QUESTIONS OF WHETHER TARGETING CULTURAL SITES VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW. HE SAID THE U.S. WILL ACT “LAWFULLY” AND DEFENDED THE PRESIDENT’S THREAT TO STRIKE TARGETS INSIDE IRAN.>>IRANIAN LEADERSHIP NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THAT ATTACKING AMERICANS IS NOT COST FREE. SETTING OUT CONDITIONS THAT SAY THESE ARE OUR EXPECTATIONS, THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT AMERICA IS EXPECTING FROM YOU AND IF YOU DON’T DO THEM, THE COST WILL BE CLEAR AND– AND DIRECT.>>Sreenivasan: IN THE HOLY SHIITE CITY OF MASHHAD, IRAN, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MOURNERS TURNED OUT TO PAY TRIBUTE TO GENERAL QASSEM SOLEIMANI, WHOSE REMAINS WERE FLOWN TO HIS HOME COUNTRY THIS MORNING. AND AT A RALLY IN LEBANON TODAY, THE LEADER OF THE IRANIAN-BACKED GROUP HEZBOLLAH SAID THE U.S. MILITARY WILL “PAY THE PRICE” FOR SOLEIMANI’S DEATH. NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT JANE FERGUSON HAS MORE FROM BEIRUT.>>Reporter: FURIOUS CHANTS BEGAN IMMEDIATELY AS HEZBOLLAH MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS GATHERED SUNDAY AFTERNOON TO HEAR FUNERAL PRAYERS FOR IRANIAN GENERAL QASSIM SULEIMANI. IN THE MIDST OF A PACKED HALL IN THE LEBANESE MILITANT’S GROUPS’ STRONGHOLD OF SOUTHERN BEIRUT, SUPPORTERS WERE STILL IN SHOCK. THESE PEOPLE HAVE SEEN LEADERS KILLED BY AMERICAN AND ISRAELI STRIKES BEFORE, BUT NEVER ONE SO SENIOR– OR SO ADORED. MOHAMMED DIDN’T WISH TO GIVE HIS FULL NAME.>>(translated): DID AMERICA TELL US IT WAS GOING TO KILL SULEIMANI? IT DIDN’T, IT JUST KILLED HIM. WE WILL ANSWER AMIDST SILENCE, NO ONE WILL KNOW WHERE OR WHEN WE WILL RESPOND. NOBODY WILL KNOW.>>Reporter: IT’S HARD TO OVERSTATE JUST HOW ANGRY THE CROWDS HERE ARE IN BEIRUT. “DEATH TO AMERICA” HAS BEEN RINGING OUT ALL DAY TODAY AND THESE PEOPLE SAY THAT REVENGE WILL HAPPEN ACROSS THE REGION. SULEIMANI WAS– AND STILL IS– REVERED HERE. HE WAS A CLOSE SUPPORTER AND ADVISOR TO HEZBOLLAH, THE IRANIAN BACKED ARMED ISLAMIST GROUP IN LEBANON. THE GROUP’S LEADER, HASSAN NASRALLAH, WAS THE LAST LEADER SULEIMAN HAD BEEN TO SEE BEFORE FLYING TO BAGHDAD WHERE HE AND SHIA MILITIA COMMANDER ABU MAHDI AL-MUHANDIS WERE ASSASSINATED BY A U.S. AIR STRIKE ON FRIDAY NIGHT. NASRALLAH SPOKE TO HIS FOLLOWERS VIA TV LINK. UNLIKE SOLEIMANI, HE IS ALMOST NEVER SEEN IN PUBLIC, FOR FEAR OF A SIMILAR STRIKE BY ISRAEL. “IF THIS TYPE OF ASSASSINATION GOES UNPUNISHED THE REGION WILL BE VIOLATED BY THE AMERICANS AND THE ISRAELIS,” HE TOLD HIS FOLLOWERS. OUTSIDE THE HALL, THE SUPPORTERS OF HEZBOLLAH WATCHED THE SPEECH IN THE STREET. MANY HERE SAY SUMEILAMI’S KILLING WILL ONLY HARDEN THEM AGAINST AMERICA.>>(translated): TRUMP IS AN IDIOT, BECAUSE HE HAS NO IDEA WHAT THE REPERCUSSIONS OF HIS ACTIONS ARE. HE THINKS HIS ACTIONS ARE GOING TO WEAKEN US? NOT AT ALL. HE HAS CREATED 1,000 SULEIMANI’S, 1,000 MUHANDIS, 1,000 NASRALLAHS. HE IS THE ONE THAT HAS LOST, NOT US.>>Reporter: HEZBOLLAH IS THE STRONGEST NON-STATE FIGHTING FORCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST TODAY– IRAN’S MOST DEADLY PROXY. THEY HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR YEARS IN SYRIA TO PROP UP THE REGIME, GAINING INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE ALONGSIDE RUSSIAN SPECIAL FORCES. IF THERE IS A WIDER WAR IN THE REGION, THEN HEZBOLLAH WILL ALMOST DEFINITELY BE INVOLVED, MUCH LIKE SULEIMANI WAS HIMSELF.>>Sreenivasan: IN CARACAS, VENEZUELA TODAY, NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS SURROUNDED THE LEGISLATURE BUILDING AND BLOCKED U.S.-BACKED OPPOSITION LEADER JUAN GUAIDÓ FROM ATTENDING A SPECIAL SESSION OF CONGRESS. GUAIDÓ EXPECTED TO BE RE-ELECTED AS LEADER OF VENEZUELA’S ASSEMBLY, BUT BOTH HE AND MEMBERS OF HIS PARTY WERE BLOCKED FROM THE BUILDING. AT ONE POINT GUAIDÓ ATTEMPTED TO CLIMB OVER AN IRON FENCE AS TROOPS PUSHED HIM BACK. VENEZUELA’S PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO BACKED RIVAL CANDIDATE LUIS PARRA. THERE WAS NO QUORUM AND NO VOTE, BUT PARRA APPEARED ON STATE TELEVISION BEING SWORN IN. IN JANUARY OF LAST YEAR, GUAIDÓ DECLARED HE HAS PRESIDENTIAL POWERS AFTER CHARGING MADURO’S REELECTION WAS ILLEGITIMATE BECAUSE OPPOSITION CANDIDATES WERE NOT ALLOWED ON THE BALLOT. FOR MORE ON THE MIDDLE EAST AND OTHER NEWS AROUND THE WORLD GO TO pbs.org/newshour.>>Sreenivasan: TONIGHT, WE’RE CONTINUING OUR SPECIAL SERIES EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON STATES BORDERING THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. YESTERDAY, WE BROUGHT YOU STORIES FROM MINNESOTA AND IOWA. TODAY WE TRAVEL FROM MISSOURI TO LOUISIANA WITH REPORTING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC HAZARDS OF RISING WATERS. WE BEGIN IN LABADIE, MISSOURI, WHERE ONE OF THOSE HAZARDS IS COAL ASH, THE RESIDUE CREATED WHEN COAL IS BURNED. THE U.S. PRODUCES MORE THAN 100 MILLION TONS OF COAL ASH EVERY YEAR, AND STORING IT CARRIES THE POTENTIAL FOR TOXIC MATERIALS LEACHING INTO GROUNDWATER. NEWSHOUR WEEKEND’S IVETTE FELICIANO HAS OUR STORY. THIS SPECIAL SERIES IS PART OF OUR INITIATIVE: PERIL AND PROMISE: THE CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE, AND IS PRODUCED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH NEXUS MEDIA NEWS, A NON-PROFIT NEWS ORGANIZATION.>>Reporter: LABADIE, MISSOURI, A TOWN OF JUST OVER 3,000, SITS ON THE SOUTHERN BANK OF THE MISSOURI RIVER. A NOTABLE SIGHT IS THE LABADIE POWER PLANT– THE LARGEST COAL BURNING PLANT IN THE STATE. IT’S OWNED BY AMEREN– MISSOURI’S BIGGEST ENERGY SUPPLIER. IN BURNING COAL, THE PLANT PRODUCES A BYPRODUCT: COAL ASH. BOTH THE PLANT AND THE ASH STAND IN WHAT’S CALLED A FLOODPLAIN– AN AREA NEXT TO A RIVER OR STREAM THAT IS PRONE TO FLOODING DURING STORMS. THAT’S A POINT OF CONCERN FOR SOME HERE, BECAUSE COAL ASH IS KNOWN TO CONTAIN HEAVY METALS– LIKE ARSENIC, CHROMIUM, AND LEAD– WHICH CAN CAUSE CANCER, RESPIRATORY DISEASE, AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE IN HUMANS.>>EARLIER THIS YEAR, THERE WAS AT LEAST 10-15 FEET OF WATER STANDING AT THIS LOCATION. SO IMAGINE THAT OVER THIS ENTIRE AREA.>>Reporter: PATRICIA SCHUBA IS A RESIDENT OF LABADIE AND THE FOUNDER OF THE GRASSROOTS NON- PROFIT, LABADIE ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATION. DOES THE LOCATION OF THESE COAL ASH SITES CONCERN YOU?>>IT ABSOLUTELY DOES. BECAUSE FLOODPLAINS ARE USED FOR FILTERING WATER. AND SO, TO HAVE THAT WASTE THAT CONTAINS HEAVY METALS AND CARCINOGENS SITTING IN THE WATER TABLE IS REALLY NOT GOOD.>>Reporter: WHEN IT OPENED IN 1970, THE LABADIE POWER PLANT STORED COAL ASH IN BASINS CALLED ASH PONDS DUG NEXT TO THE PLANT. THE ASH IN ONE OF THOSE PONDS HAS BEEN IN CONTACT WITH THE GROUNDWATER BENEATH FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS. GROUNDWATER IS HELD IN A POROUS NETWORK OF ROCKS BENEATH THE EARTH’S SURFACE CALLED AN AQUIFER. AMEREN SAYS THE GROUNDWATER FOUND BENEATH THE LABADIE PLANT IS NOT USED FOR DRINKING WATER, AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY HAS SEPARATE CONTAMINATION STANDARDS FOR GROUNDWATER BENEATH A PUBLIC UTILITY, AND GROUNDWATER USED FOR DRINKING. AMEREN’S REPORTS INDICATE THAT MOST OF THE CONTAMINANTS IN THE GROUNDWATER BENEATH THE ASH PONDS FALL WITHIN THE E.P.A. STANDARDS FOR UTILITY COMPANIES. IN 2016, AMEREN BUILT A 166-ACRE COAL ASH LANDFILL ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANT FROM THE PONDS. THE LANDFILL IS LINED AT THE BOTTOM TO PROTECT AGAINST CONTAMINATING THE GROUNDWATER BENEATH IT. BOTH THE PONDS AND THE LANDFILL ARE SURROUNDED BY LARGE BERMS THAT PROTECT THEM FROM FLOOD WATERS. BUT SCHUBA WORRIES THAT RISING WATER LEVELS COULD EVENTUALLY TOP THOSE BERMS, SPREADING TOXINS FROM THE ASH AWAY FROM THE PLANT AND TOWARDS RESIDENTIAL WATER SOURCES.>>WITH CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASING THE RISK OF SIGNIFICANT STORMS, RAINFALLS, FLASH FLOODS, AND FLOODING IN OUR FLOODPLAINS OVER WEEKS AND SOMETIMES MONTHS, THE RISK IS THAT THAT MATERIAL WILL BE IN CONTACT WITH OUR DRINKING WATER ALL THE TIME. AND THAT MEANS THAT WE’RE AT RISK OF BEING EXPOSED TO THOSE COAL WASTE TOXINS THAT CLEARLY CAN CAUSE DISEASE.>>Reporter: LABADIE AND THE REST OF THE ST. LOUIS AREA SIT AT THE CONFLUENCE OF THE MISSOURI AND THE MISSISSIPPI– THE TWO LONGEST RIVERS IN THE U.S. THE AREA IS HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO FLOODING FROM THESE AND OTHER SMALLER TRIBUTARIES. ROBERT CRISS IS A HYDROGEOLOGIST AT ST. LOUIS’S WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY. HE SAYS THAT GROUNDWATER PLAYS A BIG ROLE IN THE AREA’S FLOODS.>>WHEN IT RAINS, YOU SEE THE RIVERS GO UP, ESPECIALLY THE SMALL STREAMS. WELL, YOU– YOU THINK THAT’S THE IMMEDIATE RAINFALL, THIS NOTION OF OVERLAND FLOW. AND SOMETIMES THAT’S TRUE. BUT A REALLY LARGE COMPONENT OF THAT FLOW IS DISPLACED GROUNDWATER, THAT’S BEEN IN THE SYSTEM A LONG TIME. SO IT RAINS, AND YOU PUSH OUT THE OLD WATER.>>Reporter: IN ADDITION TO THE LABADIE PLANT, AMEREN OWNS AND OPERATES THREE OTHER COAL PLANTS IN THE REGION. ALL ARE BUILT AND STORE COAL ASH ALONG FLOODPLAINS– EITHER IN PONDS OR SOLID WASTE LANDFILLS. CRISS SAYS THAT STORING ASH IN A FLOODPLAIN PUTS THE AREA’S AQUIFER AT GREAT RISK.>>THE GROUNDWATER IN THE ALLUVIAL FLOODPLAINS RESPONDS ON A DAILY BASIS TO THE WATER LEVEL IN THE RIVER. THE WATER CAN COME AND GO. IT CAN MOVE MORE THAN 100 YARDS A DAY, AND ANY PERCOLATING WASTE WILL GET INTO THE WATER AND MOVE IT OUT THROUGH THE AQUIFER AND SO FORTH.>>Reporter: AND RIVERS HAVE BEEN RISING MORE AND MORE OFTEN IN THE ST. LOUIS AREA. THIS PAST SPRING, THE REGION WAS HIT BY ITS BIGGEST FLOOD IN MORE THAN 25 YEARS. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTISTS LINK THE FLOODING TO AN INCREASE IN STORMS CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE. RACHEL BARTELS HEADS THE MISSOURI CHAPTER OF THE WATERKEEPERS ALLIANCE– AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION THAT MONITORS THE WATER QUALITY OF RIVERS AND STREAMS.>>ST. LOUIS AND, I THINK, THE MIDWEST IN GENERAL HAS ALWAYS HAD SOMEWHAT ERRATIC WEATHER. BUT IT HAS DEFINITELY– THE STORMS HAVE INCREASED. AND THE INTENSITY OF THE STORMS HAS INCREASED, AS WELL. YOU KNOW, WE’VE HAD MAJOR FLOODING EVENTS IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. THEY– YOU KNOW, THEY’RE CALLED 100-YEAR FLOODS FOR A REASON.>>Reporter: BETWEEN MARCH AND JULY LAST YEAR, WATER LEVELS NEAR THE LABADIE PLANT ROSE BY ALMOST 20 FEET. BARTELS AND MEMBERS OF HER GROUP TOOK AERIAL PHOTOS.>>THE COAL PLANT WAS AN ISLAND. YOU KNOW, AND KNOWING WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT WATER, IT JUST– I MEAN, YOU LOOK AT IT, IT WAS SO– SUCH A POWERFUL REMINDER THAT IT IS NOT THE PLACE TO BE STORING THIS TOXIC WASTE.>>Reporter: BUT WHILE FLOOD WATERS DID RISE NEAR THE LABADIE PLANT, THEY NEVER TOPPED THE BERMS SURROUNDING THE COAL ASH. THAT’S ACCORDING TO WARREN WOOD, AMEREN’S VICE PRESIDENT OF LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS.>>FORTUNATELY, IN OUR DIFFERENT BASINS, THEY’VE BEEN DESIGNED WITH DIFFERENT PERIMETER BERMS. WE HAVE WATER TREATMENT IN THE EVENT ANY WATER DOES GET INTO THE BASINS. AND HERE AT LABADIE, WE HAVEN’T HAD ANY FLOODING THAT GOT INTO ANY OF THE BASINS. AND SO THE BERMS HAVE BEEN, YOU KNOW, PERFORMED AS DESIGNED AND WE HAVEN’T HAD FLOODING IN OUR BASINS.>>Reporter: IN ACCORDANCE WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY RULES, AMEREN USES INDEPENDENT CONSULTANTS TO MONITOR THE GROUNDWATER AROUND ITS PROPERTY AT WELLS LIKE THIS ONE. IN ADDITION, AMEREN’S CONSULTANTS ANALYZE GROUNDWATER CLOSE TO HOMES NEAR THE PLANT, AS WELL AS THE SURFACE WATER OF THE MISSOURI RIVER THAT FLOWS NEXT TO IT. IT SAYS NONE OF ITS SAMPLES EXCEED THE E.P.A.’S GROUNDWATER PROTECTION STANDARDS.>>WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY IMPACTS OF GROUNDWATER ON ANY OF THE– THE GROUNDWATER CHECKS AROUND OUR PROPERTY BOUNDARY OR IN THE RIVER OR IN THE SURFACE WATER IN THE AREA. THE ONLY HITS WERE A FEW OF THE WELLS IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE BASINS WHERE WE DID HAVE SOME– SOME METAL THAT WE DETECTED.>>Reporter: BUT ROBERT CRISS IS SKEPTICAL OF THOSE FINDINGS.>>IT’S A BIASED RESULT IF YOUR OWN PAID CONSULTANTS ARE DOING THE WORK.>>Reporter: AMEREN STANDS BY ITS CONSULTANTS’ FINDINGS AND SAYS IT PLANS TO CAP ALL ITS ASH PONDS IN THE ST. LOUIS REGION TO PROTECT THEM AGAINST FUTURE FLOODS. REGARDLESS, HYDROGEOLOGIST ROBERT CRISS SAYS THAT THE GROUNDWATER BENEATH THE PLANT MAY BE BEYOND SAVING.>>IF YOU POLLUTE GROUNDWATER, THERE IS NO WAY TO EVER CLEAN IT UP. ‘CAUSE YOU’VE POLLUTED YOUR CANTEEN. AND SO WHEN WE MISUSE OUR FLOODPLAINS, AND OUR– OUR AQUIFERS, WE– WE ARE ROBBING OUR FUTURE IN WAYS THAT WE CANNOT IMAGINE.>>Reporter: BUT WARREN WOOD BELIEVES THAT AMEREN’S PLAN WILL REDUCE CONTAMINANTS IN THE GROUNDWATER BENEATH THE ASH PONDS. HE ALSO SAYS THAT CAPPING THE PONDS AND LEAVING THEM IN PLACE IS THE SAFEST OPTION IN THE LONG RUN.>>IF YOU GO TO AN EXCAVATION APPROACH, YOU’RE LOOKING AT UP TO THREE DECADES AND YOU’RE GONNA LEAVE THESE BASINS OPEN THAT ENTIRE TIME FOR MORE WATER FILTRATION TO POTENTIALLY PICK UP METALS AND MOVE INTO THE GROUNDWATER.>>Reporter: WOOD TOLD NEWSHOUR WEEKEND THAT AMEREN’S COAL ASH FACILITIES ARE BUILT TO WITHSTAND WHAT HE TERMS “A MASSIVE FLOOD EVENT.”>>Sreenivasan: LAST WEEK, NORTH CAROLINA ANNOUNCED AN AGREEMENT WITH DUKE ENERGY TO EXCAVATE AND REMOVE NEARLY 80 MILLION TONS OF COAL ASH. THE STATE SAYS IT WILL BE THE LARGEST SUCH CLEAN-UP IN AMERICAN HISTORY.>>Sreenivasan: ONE OF THE SOUTHERNMOST PORTS ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER IS IN BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA. NEXUS MEDIA AND NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT JOSH LANDIS RECENTLY RETURNED FROM THERE WITH THIS REPORT ABOUT HOW THOSE WHO NAVIGATE THE RIVER ARE DEALING WITH RISING WATERS.>>Reporter: WHEN A DROP OF WATER FROM MINNESOTA OR A SPECK OF SAND FROM OHIO FINALLY REACH BATON ROUGE, THEY’VE JOINED THE VAST SNOWMELT AND RUNOFF FROM 31 STATES AND TWO CANADIAN PROVINCES. THE BASIN IS MORE THAN A MILLION SQUARE MILES, STRETCHING FROM MONTANA TO NEW YORK STATE. DURING AN AVERAGE SPRING, MORE THAN SEVEN MILLION GALLONS OF WATER, AND ABOUT 20 TONS OF SEDIMENT PASS UNDER THIS BRIDGE EVERY SECOND, FOCUSING THE CONTINENTAL FORCE OF THE MISSISSIPPI AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF U.S. TRADE INTO A TIGHTENING BOTTLENECK. IN BATON ROUGE, THE RIVER STARTS ITS FINAL DASH TO THE OCEAN, THROUGH A 233-MILE, MAN-MADE CHANNEL THAT SNAKES ITS WAY INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO. ALONG THE WAY, THE PORTS OF BATON ROUGE, NEW ORLEANS, AND SOUTH LOUISIANA FORM THE GREATEST TRADING HUB IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE. STEVEN HATHORN IS PRESIDENT OF THE NEW ORLEANS-BATON ROUGE STEAMSHIP PILOTS ASSOCIATION.>>I BELIEVE THE ECONOMIC EFFECT IS AROUND $730 BILLION PER YEAR. ONE OUT OF EVERY SIX JOBS IN LOUISIANA IS FROM THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. I LIKE TO SAY IT’S ONE OF OUR GREATEST, PROBABLY OUR GREATEST NATURAL RESOURCE.>>Reporter: HATHORN HAS NAVIGATED LARGE SHIPS UP AND DOWN THE CHANNEL FOR DECADES.>>OUR AREA IS ONE OF THE MOST TREACHEROUS PILOTAGE AREAS IN THE WORLD. VERY CONGESTED, WITH, TENS OF THOUSANDS OF BARGES, HUNDREDS OF TOW BOATS. WE HAVE, I THINK, SEVEN BRIDGES IN BETWEEN NEW ORLEANS AND BATON ROUGE TO NAVIGATE THROUGH. IT CAN BE VERY TRYING ON A PERSON.>>Reporter: EVEN IN NORMAL CONDITIONS, NAVIGATING THE MISSISSIPPI IS SO CHALLENGING THAT A SPECIALLY TRAINED LOCAL PILOT MUST STEER EVERY INTERNATIONAL FREIGHTER SAFELY TO PORT. BUT THE UNPREDICTABLE HIGH WATER SEASON IS MAKING THAT JOB TOUGHER. 2019’S FLOODING WAS RECORD- SETTING FOR BOTH ITS DURATION AND VOLUME.>>WE’RE HAVING VESSELS THAT WON’T STAY AT ANCHOR. WE’VE HAD TWISTED ANCHORS, BROKEN ANCHORS, BROKEN CHAINS. 10, 15 YEARS AGO YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT.>>Reporter: CAPTAIN JARED RUIZ OF THE EAST BATON ROUGE SHERIFF’S OFFICE DEALS WITH THE AFTERMATH OF BROKEN CHAINS AND TWISTED ANCHORS.>>WE’LL COME OUT HERE AND MAKE SURE DURING A HIGH WATER EVENT THAT THESE TUGS ARE SECURED AND THEY DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU KNOW THEY’RE GOING TO COME OFF AND HIT THE LEVY BECAUSE IF THEY DO, THAT’S, THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED DURING KATRINA.>>Reporter: HEEDING THE LESSONS FROM THAT HURRICANE, CAPTAIN RUIZ NOW KEEPS A CLOSE EYE ON PARKED BARGES. AND ON THE CITY’S LANDMARK EAST BANK.>>I USE THE SIGN TO GAUGE HOW HIGH THE WATER IS. UH, WELL, YOU KNOW, IT’LL BE, I’LL SAY, WELL, IT’S COVERING HALF OF BATON ROUGE, OR IT’S COVERING ALL OF BATON ROUGE.>>Reporter: EARLIER THIS YEAR, DID IT COVER IT?>>IT COVERED IT. IT WAS TOTALLY COVERED THIS YEAR.>>Reporter: THE CHALLENGES OF HIGH WATER LEVELS ON THE MISSISSIPPI ARE MANY.>>RIGHT HERE IS WHERE THESE TUGS HAVE HIT THE, THIS PYLON OF THE BRIDGE STRUCTURE AND, YOU’LL SEE LIKE THE LITTLE SCRAPE MARKS AND GOUGES, YOU HAVE SOME TUGS THAT HAVE SUCH, YOU KNOW, LIKE I SAID, THREE FOOTBALL FIELDS LONG.>>Reporter: SO AS WIDE AS THIS IS, IT’S KIND OF A TIGHT SQUEEZE WHEN THE RIVER’S GOING.>>YES.>>Reporter: AND HIGH WATER HERE CAN JOIN FORCES WITH POWERFUL STORMS IN THE GULF. THIS SPRING, HURRICANE BARRY LEFT CITIES LIKE NEW ORLEANS ON THE BRINK OF DISASTER.>>HURRICANE SEASON, HIGHWATER SEASON WHEN YOU HAVE THOSE OVERLAP EACH OTHER, YOU HAVE TROUBLE. AND THERE WAS A GREAT FEAR HERE THAT WHEN THE HURRICANE CAME, IT WOULD CAUSE THE RIVER TO BACK UP AND COME UP, AND IT WAS ALREADY SO HIGH THAT IT WOULD FLOOD NEW ORLEANS.>>Reporter: 17 FEET OF HIGH RIVER WATER LEFT THE CITY WITH ONLY THREE FEET OF REMAINING LEVEE PROTECTION. THAT’S A SAFEGUARD THE HEIGHT OF A GARDEN FENCE AGAINST THE STORM SURGE OF A HURRICANE.>>WE WERE LUCKY, I THINK IT CAME UP SIX INCHES OR LESS THAN A FOOT. AND SO WE WERE GOOD. BUT KATRINA, I BELIEVE IT ROSE LIKE TEN FEET.>>Reporter: TORRENTIAL RAINS AND WIDESPREAD FLOODING AMBUSHED BATON ROUGE IN 2016. SUBMERGING ALMOST 75% OF HOMES IN LIVINGSTON PARISH. THE CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE RESHAPED THE WAY MANY CITIZENS THOUGHT ABOUT THE THREAT OF FLOODWATERS, INCLUDING MAYOR OF THE CITY, SHARON WESTON BROOME, WHO IS ALSO PRESIDENT OF EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH.>>IF IT NEVER HAPPENS TO YOU, YOU OFTEN THINK, “OH, I’LL BE OKAY, I DON’T NEED TO DO ANYTHING.”>>YOU WOULD GO IN ONE AREA ONE DAY AND IT WOULD BE NO WATER. AND THEN WITHIN, YOU KNOW, HOURS, IT WOULD BE UP ON ROOFTOPS. AND YOU’D HAVE RIVER CURRENT GOING THROUGH IT. I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT.>>I THOUGHT FOR SURE, “OH, IT’S GOING TO GO DOWN. IT’LL GO DOWN.”>>Reporter: THEN ORDERS CAME TO EVACUATE.>>LEAVING THAT SATURDAY, I THOUGHT, “I’LL BE BACK SUNDAY.” I DIDN’T GET BACK INTO MY HOUSE UNTIL A YEAR AND A HALF AFTER THAT. THAT IMPACT WAS VERY PROFOUND. WHAT WE NOW UNDERSTAND… WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WATER IN EVERYTHING THAT WE DO, EVERYTHING THAT WE DEVELOP, EVERYTHING THAT WE BUILD. WATER HAS TO BE IN THE FABRIC OF OUR PLANNING. AND SO THAT’S WHAT WE’RE DOING.>>Reporter: IN A DEEP-RED STATE WHERE TALK OF CLIMATE CHANGE CAN STILL POLARIZE, BROOME ADDRESSES THE ISSUE HEAD ON.>>I HAVE LEARNED NOT TO DEBATE CLIMATE CHANGE WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE JUST POINTED THE FACTS TO THEM. WATER IS WARMER IN THE GULF. THAT IS HAVING, SCIENTISTS ARE TELLING US, THAT IT IS HAVING AN EFFECT ON A LOT OF THE SHOWERS AND DOWNPOURS THAT WE’RE EXPERIENCING. I’M NOT GONNA DEBATE IT. I’M JUST GOING TO ADDRESS IT.>>Reporter: ACCORDING TO NASA, EARTH’S AVERAGE SURFACE TEMPERATURE HAS INCREASED MORE THAN ONE AND A HALF DEGREES FAHRENHEIT, MAINLY AS A RESULT OF BURNING FOSSIL FUELS. WARMER AIR HOLDS MORE MOISTURE, LEADING TO MORE EXTREME RAIN AND SNOW. WARMER WATERS PROVIDE MORE FUEL FOR HURRICANES, WHICH SCIENTISTS SAY ARE GETTING MORE POWERFUL. ALL OF THIS ADDS UP TO REGIONS LIKE THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA BEING TRAPPED BY FULLER RIVERS AND RISING SEAS. STEVEN HATHORN, WHO KNOWS THIS PART OF THE RIVER BETTER THAN ALMOST ANYONE, HAS NOTICED THE CHANGE.>>I THINK IT’S PROBABLY A LOT OF LITTLE THINGS ADDING UP TO GET US WHERE WE’RE AT. THE RIVER IS DIKED, DAMMED, THAT’S INCREASED THE CURRENT IN IT. YOU ALSO HAVE A LOT OF DEVELOPMENT ALONG THE RIVER, WHICH PROBABLY PUSHES THE WATER BACK INTO IT. I’M NOT GOING TO DISCOUNT CLIMATE CHANGE EITHER. THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT SOME THAT COULD HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT, TOO. AT THE END OF THE DAY, THOUGH,THE RIVER IS GOING TO BE HIGH. WE’RE UNDER THE GUN ON THAT. WHAT HAPPENS IF THIS BECOMES THE NEW NORM? YOU KNOW, I MEAN EVERYBODY, I THINK IS SAYING A LITTLE PRAYER THAT IT WON’T.>>THIS IS PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND,SUNDAY.>>Sreenivasan: AS WE’VE BEEN REPORTING IN OUR SERIES, EXPERTS AND RESEARCHERS ARE EXPLORING A NUMBER OF WAYS TO ADDRESS RISING WATERS IN THE STATES ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. L.S.U. PROFESSOR CLINT WILLSON, IS TACKLING LOUISIANA’S ISSUES ON THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI ON A MORE MANAGEABLE SCALE. WE HAVE MORE FROM NEXUS MEDIA’S JOSH LANDIS WHO HAD A TOUR OF A UNIQUE REPLICA.>>Reporter: ON THIS 10,000 SQUARE FOOT REPLICA OF THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA, HE SHOWS ME THE VANISHING BARRIER ISLANDS WHICH USED TO HELP PROTECT SOUTHERN LOUISIANA FROM STORMS. IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE STATE’S COASTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION AUTHORITY, THE FACULTY HERE CREATED THIS MODEL AS WELL AS THE CENTER FOR RIVER STUDIES. IT’S A MULTIDISCIPLINARY EFFORT TO UNDERSTAND THE EVER-CHANGING NATURE OF THE DELTA WITH THE GOAL OF A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR ITS INHABITANTS, COMMERCE, AND WETLANDS.>>WE’RE TRYING TO HELP THE STATE UNDERSTAND RIVER SEDIMENT DIVERSIONS AND HOW SAND MOVES DOWN RIVER. THE IDEA IS TO RECONNECT THE RIVER BACK TO THESE WETLAND AREAS. THIS COULD BE THOUGHT OF AS CONTROLLED FLOODING, I DON’T MEAN WE’RE TRYING TO FLOOD PEOPLE OR INCREASE THE RISK TO ANYBODY. YOU HAVE LARGE GATED STRUCTURES SITTING HERE THAT REPLACE THE LEVEE. YOU OPEN UP THESE GATES WHEN THE RIVER IS HIGH AND THAT SAND IS MOVING DOWN TO RECONNECT THE RIVER TO THE WETLANDS. LIKE IT HISTORICALLY WAS, BEFORE WE LEVEED IT. SAND IS BASICALLY NOW DROPPING OUT AND IS NOURISHING THESE AREAS. THIS VERY CHANNELIZATION OF THE RIVER, IN SOME CASES OVER- ENGINEERING OF THE RIVER. I DON’T THINK PEOPLE QUITE UNDERSTAND THE FOOTPRINT, HOW COMPLEX OR HOW UNNATURAL IT IS, I SHOULD SAY.>>Reporter: YESTERDAY’S IMPERFECT, UNPREDICTABLE MISSISSIPPI HAS BECOME TODAY’S HIGHLY ENGINEERED SUPERHIGHWAY, CARRYING AMERICA’S FORTUNES AROUND THE WORLD.>>Sreenivasan: FOR ALL OUR STORIES ABOUT CLIMATE IMPACTS ON STATES ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER GO TO pbs.org/newshour.>>Sreenivasan: FINALLY TONIGHT, THE PENTAGON, SAID AN AL-SHABAB ATTACK ON A MILITARY BASE IN KENYA CLAIMED THE LIVES OF A U.S. SERVICE MEMBER AND TWO DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTRACTORS. THE PENTAGON SAID KENYAN DEFENSE FORCES AND U.S. TROOPS REPELLED THE ATTACK. THAT’S ALL FOR THIS EDITION OF “PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND.” I’M HARI SREENIVASAN. THANKS FOR WATCHING. HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.>>PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND IS MADEPOSSIBLE BY:BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ.SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.THE CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEINFAMILY.ROSALIND P. WALTER.BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.CHARLES ROSENBLUM.WE TRY TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT,TO NOT MISS WHAT’S RIGHT INFRONT OF US.AT MUTUAL OF AMERICA, WEBELIEVE TAKING CARE OF TOMORROWCAN HELP YOU MAKE THE MOST OFTODAY.MUTUAL OF AMERICA FINANCIALGROUP, RETIREMENT SERVICES ANDINVESTMENTS.CONSUMER CELLULAR OFFERSNO-CONTACT WIRELESS PLANSTHAT ARE DESIGNED TO HELP YOUDO MORE OF THE THINGS YOUENJOY, WHETHER YOU’RE A TALKER,TEXTER, BROWSER, PHOTOGRAPHEROR A BIT OF EVERYTHING.OUR U.S.-BASED CUSTOMER SERVICETEAM IS HERE TO FIND A PLANTHAT FITS YOU.TO LEARN MORE, GO TOwww.consumercellular.tv.ADDITIONAL SUPPORT HAS BEENPROVIDED BY:AND BY THE CORPORATION FORPUBLIC BROADCASTING, A PRIVATECORPORATION FUNDED BY THEAMERICAN PEOPLE.AND BY CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOURPBS STATION FROM VIEWERS LIKEYOU.THANK YOU.

Stephen Childs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *