Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bureaucratic Berms



A partly built berm halted June 22.

A partly built berm halted June 22. View Enlarged Image

Government: After President Obama's dramatic BP address to the nation, there was reason to think federal red tape would be cut to save the Gulf Coast. Silly us. Bureaucrats are back at it, halting Louisiana's sand berms.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tuesday shut down a critical dredging operation off the Chandelier Islands in the Louisiana Delta. The dredge pumped 50,000 cubic yards of sand used to create protective barriers between the region's islands so that crude oil from BP's April 20 oil spill washing forward would be absorbed before it could hit the coast. So far, 34.2 miles of Louisiana coastline have been dirtied and the rest is in peril.

"Please don't let them shut this dredge down — this requires your immediate attention," wrote Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser in his last-ditch letter to the White House.

The Associated Press reported that pelican nesting grounds were threatened by this dredging and the operation had to be moved two miles inland, a change that would take seven days. Nungesser asked Obama to let the emergency dredging continue to protect the coast, but all he got was ignored.

This is emblematic of the bureaucratic mind-set that's making the clean-up operations so costly and inefficient. Instead of everyone pulling together in an emergency, the petty federal fiefdom in charge of pelican nests gets absolute veto power over a community's efforts to protect an entire ecosystem (including pelican nests), in the name of business as usual.

For Plaquemines Parish, the consequences could be awful.

The parish is trying to save its $39.7 million seafood industry, which includes the top grounds for Louisiana's famous oysters and other kinds of fish (which pelicans can't survive without) from ruinous oily goo that could wash in with the next wave.

Meanwhile, the seven-day shutdown on berm construction is enough time for an Exxon-Valdez tanker-size amount of oil to spew from the still-crippled BP well.

Gov. Bobby Jindal warned in an op-ed for the Shreveport Times that only fast action on berms had saved the coast near East Grand Terre Island which were hit with oil a day after a berm went up.

Now he faces the same bureaucrats over again in the delta case with no sense of emergency whatsoever.

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