White House approves plans to build sand berms

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by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on June 2, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 2 at 5:32 PM

VENICE, La. -- Gov. Bobby Jindal has received word from the White House that the federal government is forcing BP to pay for the dredging to create barrier islands on the Louisiana coastline.

Jindal's announcement came about 20 minutes into his press conference in Venice, after an aide interrupted his Q&A to give him the news.

"We just received word from the White House that they are going to require BP to fund the five remaining segments," Jindal said.

Jindal called on BP and the federal government Tuesday to pay for his ambitious plan to build sand berms on the state's barrier islands to catch the oil offshore and keep it from getting to sensitive inland marshes.

Until Wednesday, the Coast Guard had only approve one segment of the six the governor had requested. Jindal said as it stands, the state now has permission to proceed with about 40 miles of sand barriers.

"I want to thank the White House. Certainly, it's a step forward," Jindal said. "We would have preferred it came through weeks ago, we would have preferred they approved the whole plan. But today is a step forward.

"Now I'm calling on BP, and I'm calling on the federal government: Help us to make sure BP is a responsible party. Thank you for approving our entire six segments, but now I'm calling on you, don't let it be an approval on paper alone."

Jindal and Plaquemines Parish Billy Nungesser took another boat tour Wednesday into the coastal marshes near Venice. They reported a new stretch of thick oil in the Mississippi River Delta and a little progress on the cleanup in Pass a Loutre, the first marsh soiled by BP sludge several weeks ago.

"Here we are weeks later, two weeks later, and we are seeing another part of southeast Louisiana devastated with oil, Southeast Pass. Breaks my heart," Nungesser said. "Here we are two weeks later, where we identified heavy oil in Pass a Loutre and it still has heavy oil. Where are the cleanup crews?"

Jindal said the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources have already put BP on notice. They face heavy fines for polluting Louisiana waterways.

"We are absolutely confident we will get money from BP. Money cannot replace the wetlands that are being damaged, that are in some cases are being destroyed out there by this oil," Jindal said.

The governor kept saying in his press conference that BP is the responsible party, but so far the company has not been very responsible when it comes to the cleanup. He is now challenging the federal government to keep BP honest.

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