The slow response from the Corps Of Engineers on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to dredge sand and fill in Louisiana’s barrier islands as a method of keeping oil from the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo spill out of its coastal marshlands is rapidly becoming a major scandal.
Jindal originally proposed the $350 million project last week, with the concept that should oil reach the state’s coastal marshlands the cost of remediating the damage is exponentially higher than to scrub a sandy beach. Rebuilding barrier islands torn apart by coastal erosion, particularly from hurricane activity in the last decade, is the key to accomplishing Jindal’s aim. Much work along those lines has already been accomplished using available material, but to expand the effort will require dredging sand from nearby waterbottoms – and to do that the Governor will need the Army Corps of Engineers to sign off. Ironically, the Corps is saying it can’t give a thumbs-up until after an “environmental assessment” is performed.
Folks in the Bayou State have little patience with the COE in the first place given the negative effect it has had on the state’s coastline with failed levee projects that didn’t protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina and have also effectively wasted valuable river silt from the Mississippi rather than allow nature to distribute it into the marshes. So when projects like the one pictured above which are clearly effective in keeping oil from advancing are held up by government red tape, it’s bound to boil the water around here.
As such, in a release this morning 3rd District congressional candidate Jeff Landry (R-New Iberia), the frontrunner in the race to replace outgoing Democrat Charlie Melancon, has now joined Jindal and Sen. David Vitter in protesting the slow movement:
Jeff Landry, the leading Republican candidate in the field for Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District seat called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “move at a much faster pace” in approving an emergency permit that was requested over a week ago by Governor Jindal and south Louisiana parish officials. The emergency permit would allow for the construction of sand dunes in order to stem the flow of oil into south Louisiana marshes from the ongoing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Corps’ inability to see that time is of the essence here is quite stunning to me. Our hard working parish officials on the coast, along with Governor Jindal, made this request to the Corps over a week ago, and we still have silence from their end. At some point, you must quit studying and take action. Our wetlands and marshes are too valuable as a natural and economic resource to our fishermen, as well as the nation, to allow them to become contaminated by this oil without putting up the best defenses we can,” Landry said.
Landry adds, “Frankly, the delay from the Corps in issuing this permit to help protect Louisiana’s valuable coastline is unacceptable and downright disturbing. The Corps needs to approve the permit now so we can get on with the task of protecting our coast.”
The chorus is getting louder. “It’s much easier to clean oil out of sand than out of a marsh,” Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts told the Times-Picayune.
Certainly there’s a procedure to be followed within the federal government’s Byzantine structure, but wouldn’t true leadership at the presidential or cabinet level do what’s necessary to prevent marshland damage? Doesn’t this constitute an emergency situation? Isn’t this EXACTLY the type of thing President Obama’s predecessor was pilloried for allowing to happen?
The president seems awfully occupied with his efforts to romance the Mexican vote, as are his key cabinet members like Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano. Surely that’s a lot sexier project than OK’ing a proposal from a bunch of Louisiana folks who probably didn’t vote Democrat in the last election to push a bunch of dirt around, but most of what’s involved in leadership isn’t sexy and it doesn’t get votes.
The Establishment Media has poo-poohed the idea this is Obama’s Katrina. As time goes by the analogy is more and more appropriate from this perspective.
Follow updates on the Gulf oil spill at The Hayride.