Most residents of south Louisiana and the main stream media have swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the fish story from Governor Jindal and his staff that we can dredge our way out of the B.Pocalypse by constructing sand barriers around our sinking deltaic coast. The sand berm sales job has clearly been an outstanding success.
But wait, a new Robert Young has now emerged as a media figure, not an actor playing a salesman but a coastal scientist playing the critical role of a policy advocate. This modern Robert Young, a coastal geology professor at Western Carolina University, has weighed in on Governor Jindal’s sand berm solution for saving our coast.
Professor Young wrote an Op/Ed Column in The New York Times on June 11 about this controversial and curious concept, the idea of preventing BP spoilage of the Mississippi River delta, not with shrink wrap but with sand berms. His column lists the very same concerns about going through with this project that have been expressed in LaCoastPost here; here; here; here; and here.
Rob well makes the case in the NYT. Here is a snippet:
The state understandably wants to move quickly and on a large scale, and no one wants to stop a project like this simply because it is spending too much of BP’s money. The problem, however, is that the berms won’t work as promised, and their construction will monopolize resources that could be used more effectively elsewhere.
The berms, essentially a series of long, low-lying islands made of dredged sand, seem like a good idea for blocking an oil slick. But as any engineer will tell you, the difficulties are often in the details. Although federal and state agencies were given only a short time to respond to the application, their comments, included in the permit documentation, raise serious concerns about the proposal and its potential effects.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, for instance, question whether an effort that will take at least six months to build will appreciably diminish the amount of oil entering the delta wetlands.
Moreover, both agencies note that the berms are not designed to block the tidal flow of water completely, which would be deadly to the wetlands they are meant to protect. But that makes it unclear how much oil the berms would actually prevent from passing into the marshes and estuaries, even when the project is completed.
I’ve consistently said this was never about saving the marshes as it just doesn’t fit the post Katrina experience of the Slabbed where those with connections to political fat cats got no bid contracts they in turn would try to subcontract out to the locals for peanuts. There was no way I could trust the politicians in Louisiana to not attempt to enrich themselves in this process, especially since the coastal scientific community is united in their opposition to the sand berm scheme and the plan was hatched by 2 politicians in Bobby Jindal and Billy Nungesser. Nungesser, the loudest mouth in Louisiana on the spill, in particular, has had an ethically challenged run as Plaquemines Parish President.
The Slabbed Nation literally stretches from coast to coast but I always get a charge when we are linked over at the Saints Report, a fine website in its own right. Clicking around I soon found out The Shaw Group snagged the no bid contract to build the berms and the comments to that news story tell the tale:
SHAW GROUP? Is this the same shaw group whos CEO was the head of the LA Democratic Party? Whos VP was Blanco’s campaign manager? Who got all of them no bid contracts after kartina? Who paid for several junkets for high Democratic officials in our state.. ie LSU away games? Im not sure if it is. I cant see anyhing unethical here. Do you? hahhahaha
It’s deja vu all over again! Better to laugh than cry.
Unfortunately most of the media is asleep at the switch on this, even ace environmental reporter Mark Schleifstein at the Times Picayune, who is currently serving as a mouthpiece for these crooks as evidenced by his latest story where he describes in detail the frustration the coast guard is not giving Jindal, Nungesser and company carte blanche to destroy the environment enriching themselves in the process:
The frustration also extends to the decision by National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen to approve construction of only six island berms the state hopes will capture oil before it reaches interior wetlands or natural barrier islands.
Allen’s reluctant decision to approve even that 40-mile batch of sand pits — four west of the Mississippi River’s bird foot delta and two on the east side, along the Chandeleur Islands — still leaves hundreds of miles of shoreline at risk, Graves said.
Jindal flew over the northern Chandeleur Islands on Wednesday to view the dredge California, which is adding 54,000 cubic yards of sand each day to the first of the berms. When completed, in three to five months, the berms will capture oil 20 miles from the coast, away from the fragile marshland that rings the state. Even though the first six islands will be only 40 miles in length, the berms are expected to protect 2,000 to 3,000 miles of shoreline, he told reporters during the trip.
The sense of urgency caused by the threat of oil and the often-misunderstood relationship between coastal Louisiana residents and the oil industry seem to be difficult for both federal officials and environmental critics to understand, Graves said.
Make no mistake Mr Graves, we understand what is going on here and it ain’t saving the environment . Schleifstein is a fine reporter so we still hold some hope he’ll do justice to the sand berm story but so far it hasn’t happened. That said there is another excellent reporter at the Times Picayune who does seem to get it in Rich Rainey, who filed a report today which details how BP has practically redone a marina Nungesser owns and it is there we stop next:
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who has become a national symbol of frustration by decrying BP’s and the federal government’s efforts to clean up the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, has an interest in a Port Sulphur marina that is being refurbished on the oil company’s dime.
BP was evidently using another marina if you pay attention to the dates Rich gave in his story. Predictably Nungesser, who has not met a camera or reporter he didn’t like since the spill had no comment for Rich when he asked about this blatant conflict of interest:
It’s uncertain how the marina became a staging ground for BP. Nungesser didn’t return a request for comment. He did not tour the oil spill Thursday with Gov. Bobby Jindal because of an illness, parish spokesman Kurt Fromherz said. BP did not return a request for information Thursday.
Assistant marina manager Sarah Squarsich, Leona’s daughter, said she couldn’t comment on the marina’s owners, saying it was a silent partnership. Myrtle Grove Marina is listed in public records under addresses in Belle Chasse and Port Sulphur, but Squarsich said the two were the same company.
“There’s only one Myrtle Grove Marina,” she said.
OK folks, we’ve been here and done this just under 5 years ago. Are we going to let a bunch of greedy pigs called politicians destroy what’s left of the environment so their political cronies can enrich themselves on BP’s dime? I hope we all take the lessons learned from Katrina to heart and put a stop to this boondoggle called sand berms.