Bobby Jindals “barrier islands” are washing away

berm E-4, July 7Last month I warned that Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) was demagoguing a sand barrier ‘solution’ that probably won’t help, will take many months, use up valuable resources, vanish in the first storm “” and many scientists think will make things worse.  As one Coastal geologist explained: “I have yet to speak to a scientist who thinks the project will be effective.”

So I know you will be shocked, shocked that Jindal’s “obvious” response to the BP oil disaster is already failing.  Brad Johnson has the story:

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 scientistquestioned 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 E4, June 25 berm E4, July 7
Berm E-4, June 25 Berm E-4, July 7
berm E-4, July 8
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.”

This is a Wonk Room cross-post.

9 Responses to Bobby Jindals “barrier islands” are washing away

  1. Lore says:

    Maybe there is a lesson here. Never let a politician do a scientist’s job.

  2. paulm says:

    Rising seas from global warming, coming after years of coral reef destruction, are forcing thousands of indigenous Panamanians to leave their ancestral homes on low-lying Caribbean islands.

    Rising sea drives Panama islanders to mainland

  3. Peter Mizla says:

    Jindal hopefully saw on the wires today that 2010 thus far has been the warmest year on record-I actually saw it over at ‘MSNBC Environment’- its a wonder they had the stones to release it as news.

    Louisiana will face a hellish future with Climate change- I wonder if Jindal knows this.

  4. Lore says:

    “Louisiana will face a hellish future with Climate change- I wonder if Jindal knows this.”

    Jindal like other politicians of his ilk won’t care since he will be well out office when hell comes to town.

  5. Robert says:

    Any child who has tried to make a sandcastle to keep the tide at bay could have told you this wasn’t going to work.

  6. Jim Groom says:

    I’m shocked I tell ya! Who knew that the action of water and possible storm wave action would have an effect on sand? My sister-in-law and husband live in La and they find this guy as nuts as I do. The public deserves the leaders they put into office. Perhaps the good folks in La won’t repeat that mistake the next time Jingle is up for election.

  7. Raindog says:

    Another know-nothing getting favorable press. Know-nothingism is rampant in our society and very hard to combat. Jindal looked very tough when he was demanding the berms and at first glance they seemed like a good idea. He got a lot of favorable press on the issue. Now that the well has stopped leaking the press will lose interest and the average person will never know what a stupid idea the berms were and that they were a huge waste of money. They will remeber Jindal being tough and sensible (even though he wasn’t) and Obama siding with the do-nothing eggheads. Jindal wins even though he was dead wrong.

  8. Richard Brenne says:

    All great comments. As Robert (#5) points out, building sandcastles with kids is great. My daughter Sarah and I have been doing this each year on the Oregon Coast near creeks flowing into the sea where the waves come from both the ocean and estuary, as tsunamis and sea level rise do.

    It’s a great lesson because it teaches kids that Nature bats last, and Nature can end any game with a walk-off grand slam.

    When she was 13 Sarah looked at a wave bifurcating our sand castle and said, “America’s largest sand castle is really New Orleans, isn’t it?”

    Jindal’s proposal is literally building on sand with sand. It reminds me of Dubai building palm islands (now mostly abandoned and being swallowed by the sea – evidently the laws of nature outdo unimaginably stupid hubris) out of sand. Instead of palm trees, maybe Jindal should’ve had them spell out his name in sand, like Ozymandius with ADHD and thus a much shorter attention span, the destruction coming in days instead of millennia.

    If they think they’re going to build 120 miles of sand barriers when they’ve built .2, I think this is a serious case of rounding up, kind of like the Nazi’s “Thousand Year Reich” was rounded up from 12 years.

    Trying to score political points in the face of science and reality will only lead us spiraling further down the toilet we’re flushing ourselves into.

    I think Jindal should be required to permanently inhabit his sand bar when the next hurricane hits.

  9. Chris Winter says:

    This is the guy who at one point said monitoring volcanoes was a waste of money. Did he ever back off from that claim, I wonder?