Gov. Jindal to Feds: No Is Not A Plan, Lead Or Get Out Of The Way
NEW ORLEANS (July 6, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal blasted the federal government for again denying a defense plan proposed by local and state officials that would block oil from further damaging Louisiana’s fragile marshlands. Over the past weekend, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a plan to place rocks in the water that would stop oil from hitting the coast near Grand Isle – which leaves the area nearly unprotected from further oil impact.
After a flyover of Lake Pontchartrain and a meeting today with local officials, Governor Jindal said it was unacceptable for the federal government to continue to deny state and local defense plans without proposing any of their own solutions. The Governor said officials from Jefferson Parish and Grand Isle would be resubmitting the rock plan for approval.
Governor Jindal said, “On Saturday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected the rock plan to protect the Barataria Bay at Grand Isle after weeks of meetings and phone calls and even our talking to the President about it a month ago when we were told we would get a call about the plan within hours.
“No one can convince us that rocks in the water are more dangerous than oil. That is absolutely ridiculous. The only people who believe that are the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. who can’t see the oil, smell the oil or touch the oil.
“No is not an answer. No is not a plan. No is not acceptable. Time and time again we have battled with them to get out plans approved. We are resubmitting this rock plan and we are asking BP to put funds in escrow in the event the rocks need to be removed. We have said all along that we are willing to make the rocks temporary or otherwise modify the plan to address any concerns – for example, we modified the barges by reducing the plan from five passes to two passes – but we continue to run into red tape at the federal level.
“We need the federal government to get in this war to win it. They continue to reject our plans while they put forward no plan of their own. This is not acceptable. They need to either lead, follow or get out of the way.”
Governor Jindal added, “Every time one of our requested defense measures was not provided, we came up with an alternative – just to have these alternatives get shot down. What we are left with then is often a void of any action to protect our coast at all. The choice we have in this battle is not between our plan to protect this area and some other perfect plan, which is non-existent. The choice we have is fundamentally between fighting this oil out at sea or in the passes or having it come in and attack our marsh. Those are our only choices. Let there be no doubt that we will fight for every plan and alternative to having this oil kill our marshes, our fisheries and the very livelihood of our people.
“The reality is that sand berms and gap closures with rocks/barges will help protect our coast 24 hours a day in rain or shine. We need the federal government to recognize the vulnerability that continues to exist and to work with us rather than obstruct us from protecting our citizens. Instead, the federal government continues to lack the common sense and urgency that this disaster demands; and every time they reject one of our ideas they chose the path of inaction and more of our marshland is attacked by oil.
LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN UPDATE
Governor Jindal said, “This weekend oil began passing through the Rigolets into Lake Pontchartrain. We have been asking for 20 miles of boom for weeks now where we have piles driven to create multiple layers of defense to protect this Lake. We still don’t have this needed boom and we are now again asking the Coast Guard, BP and federal officials to deploy shallow water skimmers to this area. It is absolutely critical to the City of New Orleans and our entire state that we clean Lake Pontchartrain and protect it from oil impact. We just recently cleaned up the lake after decades of work to restore the water there to healthy levels.
“With the oiling in Lake Pontchartrain, it is now confirmed that our total shoreline impact from oil is now over 337 miles.”
DREDGING – SAND BERM UPDATE
There are six dredges and numerous other vessels working on the sand berm project on both the east and west sides of the Mississippi River. The dredge California has dredged over 645,000 cubic yards of material on the northern Chandeleurs to date. On the western side of the river, there have been 110 loads transporting over 525,000 thousand cubic yards of material.
Governor Jindal said, “We have reports of oil being actively trapped there on the sand berm over the weekend and today. Again – this proves that this structure works to trap oil. It is very important that this oil is now quickly cleaned up off of the land out there so the sediment stays clean.”
LANG SUPPORTING SKIMMER OPERATIONS
Louisiana National Guard Branch Operations Teams are assisting Coast Guard Branch Directors to help provide reports of skimmer operations and the amount of oil collected. They will work from Terrebonne, Jefferson, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Tammany Parishes.
Governor Jindal said, “Our Louisiana National Guard is helping to provide more situational awareness of containment and clean-up efforts on the coast, similar their work with the Coast Guard to monitor booming operations. The National Guard’s role will be to recommend skimming missions and hold the Coast Guard accountable. Currently, it’s a hit or miss operation and twice just last week we were on the water and did not see a single skimmer. Last Monday we flew over a reportedly 12-mile slick that was near Grand Isle, but not one skimmer out there collecting oil. That’s absurd. The Louisiana National Guard is now serving as our eyes and ears on the ground so we know how many skimmers are being operated, how much oil is being collected and ultimately giving us real-time information to help win this war to protect our coast.”
The Louisiana National Guard also placed four teams to support Coast Guard Search and Response (SARES) land response efforts in St. Bernard, Lafourche, Jefferson, and Terrebonne parishes. These LANG teams are also located in Orleans, St. Tammany, Plaquemines, St. Mary and Iberia Parishes.
UPDATE – PROACTIVE STATE ACTIONS
- In Lafourche Parish, permit approval was granted to emplace six miles of single strand Tiger Dam. The Louisiana National Guard is proceeding with getting material and resources on site and they will conduct 24-hour operations at the site. Work is now underway there to emplace six miles of Tiger Dam at Fourchon Beach and over a half a mile is complete.
- The Louisiana National Guard continues to install approximately 8.5 miles of Hesco barrier on the shoreline of Cameron Parish. Thus far, crews have stretched over 6 miles of wall to provide initial protection to the coast. Approximately 4.6 miles is completely filled. Engineer teams are also reinforcing damaged sections while continuing construction operations.
- At Pelican and Scofield Islands, the Louisiana National Guard is working on a total of 14 gaps. The 8 gaps on Pelican Island are completed – with a total of 3,300 sandbags dropped there. The National Guard continues surging helicopter operations on Scofield Island and 4 of the 6 gaps are complete there. To date, approximately 13,370 sandbags have been emplaced on Scofield Island. In total, the National Guard has placed approximately 32 million pounds of sand to fill coastal gaps.
- In Plaquemines Parish, the National Guard is currently reinforcing the back levee at 15 sites from Myrtle Grove and La Reussite. Work is completed at 3 sites now and work is ongoing at site #9 – which is 59 percent complete.
IMAGE SOURCE - Governor Bobby Jindal today took BP Managing Director Bob Dudley for a boat tour to view oil impact along the coast. Photo courtesy of Governor Jindal’s Offic.