The coastal science community continues to over fly the developing environmental catastrophe also known as the sand berm boondoggle as Bobby Jindal’s sand castles continue to wash away at the hands of our typical summer weather patterns. Bonnie’s remnants probably did a good bit more damage. A few days before her passage, Coastal Scientist Rob Young wrote an open letter to Thad Allen calling for an end to all permitting associated with the berms. This means Chris Roberts will have to eat those rocks that were purchased that he kept whining about on Anderson Cooper 360 but we’ve let the merry gang of political incomps do enough damage to the environment as it is.
Len Bahr featured Rob’s open letter over at Louisiana Coast Post, which was signed by over 20 coastal scientists. I’ve embedded the original to scribd for our audience.
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Speaking of Len, Editilla linked a Politics Daily story on the berms by a writer appropriately named Ben Sandmel. Ben covers the nasty aspect of what should have been a straight scientific issue in whether the berms would be effective against the oil and whether they hurt the environment regardless of whether they help with the oil. Len is retired and not subject to the familiar retaliatory techniques employed by the local political classes to keep government employees on the reservation. Billy Nungesser in particular beclowns himself with his ignorant remarks about Len. They also reveal a man completely in the oil disaster for himself from the marina he leases to BP to whatever way he benefits from the construction of them useless berms, which I suspect also does not hurt business at his marina. Here is a snippet:
Despite such mainstream respectability, Bahr’s opinionated pronouncements have sparked not only legitimate disagreement but also attacks on his credibility. On July 5, Bahr wrote a guest editorial for The New Orleans Times-Picayune titled “Sand Berms a Dubious Solution” that detailed his measured objections to the plan. He began with a general comment interpreting Jindal’s apparent dismissal of scientific research — a puzzling stance, since the governor was a Rhodes scholar — as a reflection of Jindal’s presidential aspirations. After noting what Bahr called “an irresistible opportunity for grandstanding on the part of our ambitious young governor,” he then cited nine areas of specific objections. These included the lack of detailed engineering plans; the plan’s endorsement by a vague and unsubstantiated group of “outside experts”; the disruptive depletion of finite sand resources near the berm site; the “Environmental cost: Dredging holes in the very delta that we’re trying to restore is irrational”; changes in the natural tidal flow that could exacerbate Louisiana’s already severe coastal erosion; a completion date nine months hence, by which time the oil may have stopped flowing; conjecture that the berms built thus far could trap oil in the marshes and prevent it from flowing back out; the opinion that the $350 million tab, picked up by BP, could be put to much better use; and, most tellingly, the fragility of the work to date.
In response, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser’s July 8 letter to the Daily World of Opelousas, Louisiana, blasted Bahr as “a discredited coastal scientist that was sidelined during the Foster administration. Several hundred square miles of our state was lost and much of Plaquemines Parish eroded under his ‘leadership.’ . . . While Mr. Bahr was not consulted, his record suggests no benefit from this consultation.”
Nungesser, who offered no proof of Bahr being discredited, has worked tirelessly throughout the spill disaster. A highly effective advocate — thanks in large part to frequent appearances on the CNN program “360 With Anderson Cooper” — Nungesser has vigilantly monitored and lobbied BP, the Coast Guard and President Obama, and achieved substantial results. At the same time, this fierce advocate of the berms is notoriously intolerant of opposing viewpoints. Bahr called Nungesser’s comments “a badge of honor.”
Ben’s entire column is a great read and synopsis of the public relations battle on this. Thankfully on this story Anderson Cooper is back in New York and can do no further damage. Now its time to stop the insanity and clean up this mess.