Monday, July 19, 2010

FAIL: Barrier-Islands Off Louisiana Coast

Classic rock immortal Robert Plant once sang, "When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me." So, maybe Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) is just a huge Zepp fan. That's as logical as any explanation for his insistence on responding to the BP oil disaster as he has.

Today, the Washington Post is reporting on one of Louisiana's primary strategies for keeping oil out its sensitive coastal marshes: put solid land in its way. The state has proposed building 128 miles of islands in arcs off the coast - and has already received the federal go-ahead to construct 45 miles worth of these berms - using rocks, sandbags in metal frames, and mounds of dredged sand.

The one problem? These artificial “barrier islands” are already failing. How surprising, considering, “categorically, across the board, every coastal scientistquestioned the wisdom of the program.

The first artificial island project is already showing serious signs of erosion, with heavy equipment sinking into the ocean. Photographs released by Louisiana scientist Leonard Bahr and the US Army Corps of Engineers show that the artificial island E-4 - from which WaPo reported - intended to reach an 18-mile length, is struggling to survive at 1,100 feet:
berm E4, June 25 berm E4, July 7
Berm E-4, June 25 Berm E-4, July 7
berm E-4, July 8
Berm E-4, July 8

Jindal pushed to build the $360 million project, trying to justify the barrier-island construction back in May by saying it was the “obvious” thing to do:

It makes so much sense. It’s so obvious. We gotta do it

We know it works, we have seen it work, but if they need to see it work, they need to do that quickly,” argued Jindal. On May 27, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) attacked President Barack Obama, calling his administration’s caution “absolutely outrageous“:

Here the president doesn’t seem to have a clue. His decision on the emergency dredging barrier island plan is a thinly veiled ‘no.’ Approving two percent of the request and kicking the rest months down the road is outrageous, absolutely outrageous.
Jindal continues to press for the federal government to approve the emergency construction of 125 miles of sand berms, arguing the 0.2 miles constructed are “are doing what they were intended to do” -- even as they crumble into the sea.

No comments: