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The Justice Department is seeking information about whether lawsuits by environmental groups hindered efforts to improve New Orleans levees, an effort the Sierra Club and Democratic lawmakers say is aimed at shifting blame for the massive flooding.
Some conservatives have complained that environmental groups have escaped blame for their opposition to levee projects. The Competitive Enterprise Institute posted on its Web site an article noting that "the opposition of environmental activist groups to building levees in the first place" has drawn little attention in the hurricane's aftermath.
It cited two groups, American Rivers and the Sierra Club, for their federal suit in 1996 to block an upgrade of 303 miles of levees in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Most of those levees are on the Mississippi River and did not fail during Katrina.