GRAND ISLE (July 2, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal traveled to Barataria Bay and East Grand Terre Island – both off the coast of Grand Isle – where he viewed substantial oil impact in the marshes and repeated his call to the federal government to approve a containment plan put together by coastal leaders that will help stop the oil from further damaging the coastline. As more oil continues to rush towards the Louisiana coast, local officials have been waiting for weeks for final approval from the federal government to complete their rocks and barges plan to block oil from damaging interior marshes.
Governor Jindal said, “Jefferson and Plaquemines Parish together with the towns of Grand Isle and Lafitte have been pushing for weeks to get approval to place rocks in western Barataria Bay passes. Their plan calls for narrowing the passes by up to 70 percent with rocks, rigid pipe boom or other measures then placing barges with vacuum trucks and sorbent operations in the remaining gaps. This plan will help us fight the oil before it gets into our interior marshes with these plans.
“We continue to wait for federal approval for this work and urge the Army Corps of Engineers to approve these oil removal actions immediately. Weeks ago, the President came here and said we would get a call within hours. To date, we still do not have the federal approval we need. This is a war and we need the federal government in this war to win it. I want to be clear – losing this battle is not an option for Louisiana. We will win this war – and we will do it with them or without them.
“On Monday, we flew about three miles offshore Grand Isle and Grand Terre islands. There was oil as far as you could see. Today, we boated in Barataria Bay, and once again, oil covered these waters. The Coast Guard pulled our barges out of Pass Abel and we did not see a single skimmer operating on Monday. The reality is that sand berms and gap closures 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.”
ISLAND AID ANNOUNCEMENT
Earlier today, Lt. Governor Scott Angelle announced that the state is allocating $125,000 from the BP tourism grant in support of the “Island Aid” benefit concert in Grand Isle. Island Aid is being held in place of the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo that was cancelled because of the BP spill. Money raised at “Island Aid” will go towards the Grand Isle Alive Promotion Fund to assist in the rebuilding of the fishing community and tourism industry of Grand Isle.
MEETING WITH SECRETARY MABUS
Earlier this week, Governor Jindal met with Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, who has been charged by President Obama with developing a long-term recovery plan for the Gulf Coast. The Governor noted the specific request he made to Secretary Mabus, an immediate commitment of federal funding to match the state’s commitment to coastal restoration and hurricane protection. Governor Jindal plans to meet with Secretary Mabus again next week when he visits Louisiana, where the Governor will show him firsthand the state’s coastal erosion problems and also ask the Secretary to expedite work to restore Louisiana’s coast.
Governor Jindal said, “We made it clear to Secretary Mabus that Louisiana does not need any more plans or studies for coastal restoration or hurricane protection – we have enough of those. What we need is immediate action on the estimated $9 billion in projects that have been authorized by Congress for construction.
“Specifically, I told Secretary Mabus that we need an immediate commitment of federal funding to match our state’s commitment to coastal restoration and hurricane protection in Louisiana.
“We simply do not have the 40 years that it would take to complete these projects through the Corps of Engineers – according to their usual timeframes. Even in this emergency situation, it took us nearly a month to get approval and funding for our sand berms as oil continued to hit our shore day after day – that is ridiculous.
“We are also planning to meet with Secretary Mabus again next week when he returns to Louisiana – so we can show him coastal erosion going on here first-hand, and ask him for a commitment to expedite work to restore our coast. We certainly don’t have time for more years of studies.”
The Governor added, “The President’s moratorium on deepwater energy production will not just hurt jobs in Louisiana. It also delays energy revenue sharing that is due to the state under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. Senator Landrieu and our congressional delegation have been working on legislation to expedite the sharing energy revenues rather than delaying it. I strongly support those efforts. Our Constitution requires that every penny of these revenues be dedicated to projects to restore our coast, provide hurricane protection and address other impacts from energy production.”
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.
•At Pelican and Scofield Islands, the Louisiana National Guard continues to work on a total of 14 gaps. The 8 gaps on Pelican Island are complete and a total of 3,300 sandbags were dropped there. LANG continues surging helicopter operations on Scofield Island and 4 of the 6 gaps are complete there – with approximately 11,820 sandbags emplaced on Scofield Island to date; and about 30 million pounds has been filled into these gaps in total.
•In Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana National Guardsmen are currently reinforcing the back levee at 15 sites. Work is completed at 2 sites and ongoing at site #9 – which is now 57 percent complete and site #7 – which is now 34 percent complete. Previously, Guardsmen completed emplacing small sandbags in 6 locations in the same vicinity. All 6 sites were completed with over 4,900 sandbags.
•As a result of high winds, wave action, and beach erosion primarily at Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Cameron Parish, LANG is repairing and reinforcing damage to containment systems.
IMAGE SOURCE - GRAND ISLE, La. – Tiger Dam barrier walls emplaced by Louisiana National Guardsmen protect inland areas from the effects of wave action caused by Tropical Storm Alex, June 29 2010. Coastal barriers such as this, land bridges, sandbags, and Hesco walls have been constructed to close gaps and protect low-lying sections along the coast from possible oil intrusion. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeffery Barone, Public Affairs Representative/Released)