Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gov. Bobby Jindal: Taking matters into our own hands


June 21, 2010

We are fighting a war. There is no doubt that the ongoing BP oil spill is a full frontal assault on our Louisiana way of life.

From the beginning of this disaster more than 50 days ago, there have been many sorrowful sights of devastation in our wetlands and wildlife habitats. But there also have been true heroes emerging in the battles to protect our coast.

In the first weeks of the spill, we asked BP and the Coast Guard for their detailed plan for responding to an oil spill of this magnitude. As the oil started to come ashore and boom was late arriving in many areas, we again appealed to BP and the Coast Guard to meet the requests for resources outlined in our detailed parish plans. We were told to wait while they found more boom. Again, we did not wait. We moved ahead on our own, mobilizing the Louisiana National Guard to begin filling dozens of gaps in barrier islands along our coast.

Wind and weather conditions moved the oil into our coast again and again. We knew this oil spill was not going to be a single event for Louisiana; it is a war we will need to fight on many fronts.

We proposed 24 segments of sand booms to fortify against the oil. While the Corps' review process drug on, we took matters into our own hands and redirected our state-operated dredger on East Grand Terre to begin creating a sand boom wall of protection on that island. Only days after we directed this work, oil hit that area and today the sand boom on East Grand Terre is actively holding oil back from entering interior wetlands and waterways.

After weeks of delay, the Corps finally approved six segments in our plan. But the Coast Guard announced it would only call on BP to pay for one segment. We wouldn't take no for an answer. We got together again with coastal parish leaders and met with the president and National Incident Commander Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen.

We told BP to stop sending us lawyers and lobbyists; they had two choices — either begin work on the segments or get out of the way and let us begin the dredging work ourselves. We chose option two for them and signed an emergency contract to begin work on the sand boom segments ourselves — again taking matters into our own hands to protect our coast.

The war against this oil spill continues today, and our commitment to winning this war has only grown stronger. We will not wait on bureaucracy or wishful thinking. We will continue to move forward on our own to implement our own ideas for protecting coastal Louisiana, even when BP and the Coast Guard don't agree with our plans.

I know we can do this because of the many heroes we have fighting in this war alongside us — our coastal parish presidents, our National Guard troops, the fishermen who are laying out boom and the communities that are banding together to help one another in their time of need. We will protect our people and our communities and industries that make Louisiana the greatest state in the world.

And we will not rest until every drop of oil is off of our coast and out of our marshes and our water — and our seafood and our coastline are 100 percent whole again.

Bobby Jindal is Louisiana's governor.

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