Erosion threatens 1,000-foot sand berm, July 7.
As experts warned, Bobby Jindal’s “obvious” response to the BP oil disaster is failing. Since the beginning of May, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has pushed a crash effort to build artificial “barrier islands” from dredged sand to prevent BP’s toxic oil from reaching Louisiana’s fragile coastline. He and other Louisiana politicians excoriated the federal government for waiting until June 3 to authorize the $360 million project, even though “categorically, across the board, every coastal scientist” questioned its wisdom. In mid-May, Jindal justified the barrier-island construction by saying it was the “obvious” thing to do:
It makes so much sense. It’s so obvious. We gotta do it.
“We know it works, we have seen it work, but if they need to see it work, they need to do that quickly,” argued Jindal. On May 27, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) attacked President Barack Obama, calling his administration’s caution “absolutely outrageous“:
Here the president doesn’t seem to have a clue. His decision on the emergency dredging barrier island plan is a thinly veiled ‘no.’ Approving two percent of the request and kicking the rest months down the road is outrageous, absolutely outrageous.
In fact, the first artificial island project is already showing serious signs of erosion, with heavy equipment sinking into the ocean. Photographs released by Louisiana scientist Leonard Bahr and the US Army Corps of Engineers show that the artificial island E-4, intended to reach an 18-mile length, is struggling to survive at 1,100 feet:
|Berm E-4, June 25||Berm E-4, July 7|
|Berm E-4, July 8|
“You don’t want to destroy the village to save the village,” Tom Strickland, the U.S. Interior Department’s assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, explaining on June 23 the federal government’s decision to only provisionally approve the construction of forty miles of sand berms along the Chandeleur Islands. Strickland estimated the berms would last “probably no more than 90 days.”
Jindal is pressing for the federal government to approve the emergency construction of 125 miles of sand berms, arguing the 0.2 miles constructed are “are doing what they were intended to do.”
At Climate Progress on June 25, Joe Romm ran over the berm boondoggle, noting:
Jindal himself would be more credible as a supporter of a science-based approach to protecting Louisiana, if he hadn’t launched an effort to block climate change regulations that are aimed at averting catastrophic climate change, which will submerge and destroy the very part of his state he is supposedly trying to save now. And Jindal has mocked federal efforts to do science-based monitoring of other disasters (see “Eruptions of know-nothingism from conservative savior Bobby Jindal“).