*BP oil spill pushes Louisiana to desperate, massive ‘berm’ plan*
New Orleans – Increasingly defiant of BP executives and federal officials, state and local officials in Louisiana say they are prepared to take emergency measures into their own hands to protect the state’s wetlands from encroaching oil from the BP oil spill.
Some marine scientists, however, say that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to dredge sand onto coastal barrier islands to keep the spill offshore may take too long to be effective, could possibly damage the coastal environment, and could undermine long-term efforts to rebuild the state’s eroding coastline.
Over the weekend, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell sent a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers stating that Louisiana has the right to dredge sand to fight the oil spill without the corpsâ€™ approval. Caldwell cited the 10th Amendment to the Constitution to argue that the federal government does not have the authority to deny a state the right to act in an emergency. The 10th Amendment states that powers not explicitly given to the federal government or prohibited to the states are given to the states and the people.
For nearly two weeks Governor Jindal has asked the Corps to approve a plan to dredge sand berms off the coast in an attempt to keep oil from reaching inland marshes.
Sixty-five miles of the state’s coast were affected by oil over the past week, and leaders of coastal parishes say that BP and the Coast Guard have not responded to their calls to contain the oil before it washes ashore.
Local officials make ultimatum
In Jefferson Parish over the weekend, local officials on Grand Isle commandeered 30 private fishing vessels that BP had commissioned but had not sent out to combat the encroaching oil. The boats laid down protective boom as the oil came ashore. Jindal told reporters Sunday that he supported the decision and was willing to go to jail with parish leaders if federal authorities tried to step in.
“For four days we were watching it come in and gave the coordinates to BP and they didn’t do anything,” said Jefferson Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness director Deano Banano. “Heavy oil came into Barataria Bay, and it was not kept out of the marshes, so it’s a cleanup operation now, not a containment operation. Promises that were made over the past weeks were not kept. We were let down.”
Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser said Monday he was giving BP and the Coast Guard 24 hours to take more effective measures to protect the parish from oil before he began acting on its own.
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“Parish leaders and Gov. Bobby Jindal emerged from an afternoon strategy session at a Venice fishing harbor to complain about a lack of urgency from federal agencies and BP to address the oil washing into coastal marshes day after day.
Jindal said he supported a decision by local and Jefferson Parish leaders on Grand Isle on Saturday to commandeer about 30 fishing vessels that BP had commissioned but hadn’t deployed to lay down protective boom as the oil came ashore.
The normally dispassionate Jindal even joked that he would go to jail with the mayors of Grand Isle and Jean Lafitte if federal authorities tried to stop them.
More than 65 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline has now been affected by oil, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — more than the total sea coastline of Delaware and Maryland combined, Jindal said.”