Governor Jindal: We Are in a War Against This Oil, Need Real Results
FORT PIKE, NEW ORLEANS (June 16, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal took a helicopter out to the Northern end of the Chandeluers Island chain to see the state-led dredging operations under way there along with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis and St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro.
Governor Jindal said, “We saw the operations underway on the Northern Chandeluers today. It was a great sight to see these barrier islands being enhanced to protect our interior wetlands from the oil that continues to surge toward our coast. We are absolutely in a war to protect our way of life and seeing all of the supply ships and the huge dredger operation out there blowing sediment to create sand boom shows just how intense our efforts must be in this battle. Thankfully, we finally prevailed in getting this segment and five others in our 24-segment sand boom plan approved by the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard, and funded by BP, after fighting red tape and bureaucracy for many weeks.
“The Great Lakes Cutterhead Dredge, called the California, arrived onsite this past weekend and began initiation procedures, safety protocols, and hookup of floating flexible discharge pipes between the dredge and the discharge pipe. Over ten support vessels, including barges, crew quarters and ferries have been mobilized to the site. The California is dredging and moving an average of 54,000 cubic yards of dirt a day. Thus far, 108,000 cubic yards of material have been placed as the beginning base for the barrier berm. We can already see the beginning of the above water segment of the berm beginning to form. Dredging has also begun on the west side of the Mississippi River - with the Stuyvesant dredging Cubit’s Gap in the mouth of the river and moving the material toward site W9, Pelican Island.
“Under our implementation plan, over 150 vessels will be working on six segments concurrently. Each segment will be treated as a separate project with dredges and other equipment working simultaneously. We expect ten dredges to be working on these projects, making this one of the largest and most intense dredging projects in our nation's history. Once completed, the roughly 40 miles of sand berms will benefit and protect 2,000 to 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline - keeping our battle against this oil well away from our interior marshes and wetlands.”
Governor Jindal also commented on President Obama’s speech from the White House Tuesday night. The Governor said, “I was glad the President took time to address the spill last night and bring national attention to our ongoing needs. The bottom line is that we know the President is good at speeches but we need the federal government to understand that we are in a war to protect our way of life. What we want is results – we want them to show us that failure is not an option.”
The Governor added that, “DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols sent a letter this morning following up on the President’s announcement that he is bringing in a third party organization to ensure all claims from this disaster are paid. This announcement seems like a good step forward in a process that has been very frustrating to date. The state has requested access to BP’s claims database and procedures for weeks now and we have received only drips and drabs of information from BP. Their claims system absolutely needs to be reformed and whatever the final system is, the state must be assured full and complete access to the claims system in order to ensure our people’s claims are being handled fairly and quickly. We are also concerned that around 75 percent of small business claims being turned into the SBA are being rejected and we are asking the SBA to improve their process so our people are getting the help they need while their businesses are suffering from this spill.
“Again, no one in Louisiana wants a claims check from BP or an unemployment check - I want to be clear on that point. All of our workers and businesses would much rather go back to work. We want BP to clean up this oil and restore our water and our marshes to their healthy and productive status before this spill. But, the losses for many have already been significant and we will absolutely ensure that BP is held responsible for every loss associated with this spill. In particular, we are asking federal officials how this new independent claims process will be established, how it will operate in conjunction or away from the current system, and what degree of transparency it will have to ensure the state has access to claims information.
“Last night, the President also mentioned that he was calling for a long-term study to restore our coast. We’ve had many studies throughout the years and we are sharing with federal officials an outline for rebuilding coastal Louisiana. More important than studies, again, is action. We already have $9 billion in projects authorized by Congress. We need to move forward on projects, not have another study. We also need to get our fair share of OCS drilling revenue, just as many states get for on-shore drilling. Making OCS revenues for off-shore drilling match the current formula for on-shore drilling would be a tremendous help in giving us the funding we need to restore our coast. We also support our delegation’s efforts to speed up revenue sharing with the state to allow us to restore our coast.
“On the drilling moratorium, the President did not announce an expedited process as we had hoped he would – which could save tens of thousands of Louisiana jobs that the six-month, or longer, deepwater drilling moratorium threatens. We are worried that the Administration still doesn’t understand that this moratorium is a job-killer for our state. This is about our jobs, our economy, and our way of life. Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle is in DC today meeting with Secretary Salazar and ask him to listen to his own experts – the eight out of 15 of his own scientists who studied this issue and are against the six-month drilling moratorium.”
During the press conference at Fort Pike today, Governor Jindal expressed concern about a recent move by the Coast Guard to shut down vacuum barge operations so barges could be inspected and certified with the Coast Guard. The Governor said, “I brought this up on the White House conference call this morning and stressed that we were very concerned about any pause in these operations that are actively removing oil from our shores and our marshes. The federal government needs to do their inspection and certification process quickly and ensure these barges operate safely. We cannot afford to lose weeks or even days in our war against this oil.”
The Governor also stressed again the need for a quick resolution on Grand Isle Mayor David Carmadalle’s plan to narrow the five passes into Barataria Bay and protect the interior wetlands there. Mayor Carmadalle continues to work to get the Army Corps of Engineer’s final approval for the rock and barge plan.
Update on Other State Proactive Action