State to build sand berms along barrier islands

by Mary Tutwiler

Whether forced or willingly, BP will pay for six sand berms along Louisiana's barrier islands. Whether forced or willingly, BP will pay for six sand berms along Louisiana's barrier islands. The language changes from American muscle: "I have directed BP to pay for five additional barrier island projects in addition to the one I approved last week as part of our continuing commitment to do everything possible to protect our vital coastal communities from BP's leaking oil," Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told the Associated Press, to "Oil company BP says it will pay for the construction of six sand barriers off the coast of the US state of Louisiana to try to protect fragile wetlands from a huge oil slick," from the BBC.

Whichever the case, approximately 100 miles of sand berm, 6 feet tall, 20 feet across the top and 320 feet across the bottom, will stretch from Timbalier Island, on the west side of the Mississippi Delta, to the Chandeleur Islands on the east. The sand berms will be broken into 24 segments with gaps to allow tidal flow. The Mississippi bird's foot delta will not be obstructed.

Holding up the original permit request to the Army Corps of Engineers, which was filed weeks ago by the state, were objections from Department of Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and various environmental groups, questioning everything from the possibility of impounding marshes, changing salinity and current flow and effects on wildlife and the islands themselves. Also the chatter, as the weeks went by and state grew more and more frustrated, opined that the berms would be too little too late.

Also from the BBC, BP's chief executive Tony Hayward, who has shown an amazing insensitivity to the plight of Louisiana residents, admitted that it was "entirely fair criticism" to say his company was unprepared for the deep-water disaster. In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, he said: "We did not have the tools you would want in your toolkit."

In addition, on Wednesday Governor Bobby Jindal sent a letter to President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting that they lift the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Jindal cites huge economic losses to the state both from the impaired seafood industry and the potential loss of oilfield jobs.

While the economic impacts are devastating to the state, until we can be assured that the other 33 deepwater rigs in the gulf have "the tools you would want in your toolkit," should another problem develop, how can we support this position?