Last night, the United States Department of the Interior shut down operations by the State of Louisiana to build a series of sand berms to protect the Louisiana coastline from the massive oil slick that continues to drench unabated the fragile marshes, wetlands and beaches along the Louisiana coastline.
The Feds say dredging the sand to build the protective barriers might hurt the environment. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wants to lose precious time and delay the dredging until new pipe can be delivered that would allow dredging in another area that Salazar feels may be less damaging to the ecosystem.
You can’t make this stuff up. No one would believe you.
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) says the Feds are detrimentally micromanaging Louisiana’s plan, but they aren’t implementing a strategy of their own.
“Louisiana developed a plan to help save our coast from this oil, but the president and his administration continue to put up red tape without any plan of their own,” said Boustany. “The administration should work with the state to implement a responsible strategy to protect the coast. If the administration opposes the sand berms, what’s their better solution?”
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), the man responsible for the sand berm strategy last night had a few choice things to say about Salazar shutting down the coastal protection efforts.
(Courtesy of The Hayride, for more extensive local coverage of the Gulf Oil disaster check out their website.)
Jindal not only challenged the wisdom of the Interior Department’s order to stop the dredging, he noted that the management of the Chandeleur’s by the federal Department of Fish and Wildlife has been an exercise in abject failure.
“We got word yesterday that federal officials were going to shut down our dredging operations on the North Chandeleur Islands and those operations were indeed stopped under the federal government’s command at 6 p.m. last night.
“Our request here today is simple,” said the governor. “We are again calling on the federal government to allow us to continue these dredging operations as we mobilize pipe for another two miles — which will take around just seven more days. Getting this pipe in place without stopping the dredging operations will allow us a seamless transition as we move the dredge to a new borrow site. After this pipe is in place, our dredger can disconnect and move to the next site where it can then resume dredging operations in just one day.
“We have told Col. Lee of the Army Corps of Engineers and every federal agency that we are in an emergency situation here. This is a disaster for our state. Days count. Hours count. We cannot wait for more conference calls and meetings for discussions. We need to adapt to the situation on the ground and continue our dredging operations for as long as possible until we can move to the next borrow site and continue to create sand boom.”
“On May 11th, we submitted a proposal to the regulatory agencies, BP and the Coast Guard to approve our sand berms. It took almost a month for the federal government to approve the plan and make BP pay for the work. Meanwhile, we had millions of gallons of oil covering our wetlands, killing our wildlife and forcing our people out of work.”
Jindal then took aim at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which controls the Chandeleurs as a wildlife refuge. He showed a map of the erosion of the chain from 2001 to 2005 and delved into a short history of the disappearing islands.
“People used to live on these islands,” he noted. “It was a fishing community and even had some farming. From the mid-90’s until recently, the islands lost up to 300 feet per year under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management.”
Jindal then answered the concern that dredging where the state has dredged is a hazard to the islands due to currents and tides.
“We have said from the beginning that we would backfill any dredging that would adversely affect these islands. That commitment still stands. Shutting down dredging operations while oil continues to hit our shores and the oil continues to flow into the Gulf is absolutely absurd. We need to act now.”