It was a plan to beef up the fight against oil that continues to threaten Barataria Bay.
In addition to stacking barges across five passes, Jefferson Parish officials have been pushing to build a series of rock barriers – which they believe would another critical layer of defense.
Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers denied the request -- citing environmental concerns.
JP Councilman Chris Roberts was stunned when he learned about the decision.
"This is a project that we've been working on for quite some time. We felt that we had answered all of the corps' questions,” Roberts said.“It's just disheartening that it would come down to a denial when we were expecting this plan to be approved."
Army Corps officials say various studies on the plan raised concerns that the barriers could lead to erosion and other harmful effects to the area.
In a news release, Col. Al Lee, commander of the agency’s New Orleans District, said he made the decision after carefully reviewinginput from Jefferson Parish, state and federal resource agencies, and the scientific community.
Ken Holder, a corps spokesman, reiterated Lee’s comments in a phone interview, but refused to comment on backlash over the decision.
"I'm not gonna respond to what any of the local officials would say. I would just say again, Col. Lee looked at the bottom line and the benefits didn't outweigh the detriments," Holder said. "Colonel Lee was concerned that a defined plan of action to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts had not been established."
Roberts called the denial a “major setback,” and says it creates another divide between federal and local officials.
"The trust level is eroding and it's eroding fast, and it's unfortunate that these passes are gonna be left unprotected and as a result of it, I'm very fearful that the livelihoods of many people will be impacted for years to come," he said.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s office also spoke out against the decision.
In an emailed statement, Kyle Plotkin, the governor’s press secretary, said, “Only a government bureaucrat would say rocks are more harmful to our water and marshes than oil. The Corps took weeks to review the plan only to reject it today - and this denial is another unfortunate example of the federal government's lack of urgency in this war to protect our coast."
Lafitte Mayor Tim Kernerechoed the frustration.
"I think it's like a slap in the face from the federal government,” Kerner said.“Anytime you're gonna sit and say that the oil coming into the marshlands -- you know -- rocks would actually be worse than that, I mean, I'm just sad. It's just disgusting."
Jefferson Parish officials plan to fight the decision, but a corps spokesman saysthere are no appeal procedures for emergency permit