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PRESS RELEASE

Governor Jindal: No Time to Waste, Protection Efforts in Lafourche Must Be Executed Now

PORT FOURCHON (July 9, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal toured the coastline areas of Port Fourchon, Grand Isle, Barataria Bay and Caminada Pass where he and local officials viewed substantial oil impact on the beaches and wetlands. Governor Jindal and Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph stressed that much of the oil impact seen today is new to these areas and emphasized why it’s critical for a number of coastal protection efforts to quickly be implemented in order to protect the coastline from further oil impact. On the tour, Governor Jindal saw many of the protection efforts already in place – including landbridges built by the National Guard, Hesco baskets, and tiger dams – that are working successfully to block oil from coming into Louisiana’s fragile marshes.

Governor Jindal said, “There are a number of ongoing initiatives that the parish and state have initiated to protect Lafourche Parish and the surrounding area.

“The first project involves the sand and rock berms at Thunder Bayou, where the Louisiana National Guard is working to shore up this protection berm with additional rock material to ensure that oil cannot get farther into our marshes. These efforts have been very successful in holding back oil and must continue as quickly as possible. National Guard engineers are also placing additional fill material and geotextile material to fortify the Hesco baskets at Thunder Bayou.

“Second, the National Guard deployed 2.5 miles of Hesco baskets on Caminada Beach. They also deployed tiger dams in this area.

“Third, BP approved the use of mesh fencing – which is a geotextile – and pilings or other stabilizers along the Twin Pipelines as requested by the South Lafourche Levee District and the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District. However, no work has been done on this project. We are asking BP to move on this approved project as quickly as possible to help protect Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes.

“Fourth, we proposed a boom and piling protection measure along Lake Raccourci to prevent the pollution of oil farther into this area of western Lafourche Parish and eastern Terrebonne Parish. Again, this proposal was initially approved but no work is being done at this time. We strongly urge BP and the Coast Guard to move forward on this project as quickly as possible.

“Fifth and finally, Lafourche Parish, Port Fourchon and the state are working on measures to provide additional protection of Bay Champagne. We need the approval of protective measures adjacent to Fourchon Beach to ensure that oil does not get through this pass into the bay where thousands of acres of wetlands could be polluted.”


DRILLING MORATORIUM UPDATE
While in Port Fourchon, home to much of the nation’s oil and gas industry, Governor Jindal continued to rail against the President’s drilling moratorium saying he was pleased with yesterday’s court ruling to not reinstate the moratorium, but noted the fight is not over because there is in effect a de facto moratorium.

Governor Jindal said, “On yesterday’s ruling – we were pleased the court did not reinstate the drilling moratorium. However, it’s clear from the ruling that this matter is not resolved and there remains uncertainty about the future of deepwater drilling and thousands of jobs in our state. We have very serious concerns that the Department of Interior is going to announce a second moratorium. As was pointed out during the hearing, despite the injunction against the original moratorium, we currently have a de facto moratorium because of uncertainty from the Department of Interior.

“It was clear from the court arguments that the Secretary of the Interior ignored the advice of his own experts. The Secretary’s six-month moratorium was not related to the facts provided by his own hand-selected experts. Indeed, the Judge in the original case said the Department of Interior’s report to shut down deepwater drilling was inaccurate and misleading. He said the Department’s statement that their report’s recommendations were ‘peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering’ was misleading and that five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium.’

“The arguments at yesterday’s hearing also showed that the Administration’s six-month blanket moratorium was both arbitrary and capricious. The reality is that we absolutely want drilling to be done safely and do not want another spill or one more drop of oil on our coast or in our water, but thousands of Louisianians should not have to lose their jobs because the federal government can’t adequately do its job of ensuring drilling is done safely. It is clear that there is still no real path or timeline from the federal government on how to increase the safety of drilling.

“The federal government has an entire agency dedicated to monitoring safe drilling. It shouldn’t take them six-months or longer for a new national commission to ensure safety measures are in place and their laws and regulations are being followed. Instead of an arbitrary moratorium, the Department of Interior should have listened to their experts and enacted the specific recommended steps from their own experts to ensure proper oversight and safe drilling.

“What Washington doesn’t understand – and indeed they admitted yesterday that they didn’t even factor into this arbitrary decision - is that there are serious job losses which will result from the six-month deepwater drilling moratorium, estimated to kill 20,000 Louisiana jobs and cost us between $65 to 135 million in lost Louisiana wages each month. The reality is that the moratorium not only threatens jobs on oil rigs, but it also jeopardizes many other industries that supply our oil and gas industry and the entire communities that depend on them.”


SAND BERM/DREDGING UPDATE
Governor Jindal provided an update on sand berm construction at the Chandeleur Islands, where the Louisiana National Guard has collected more than 500 pounds of oiled debris, which means the berm is doing exactly what it was designed for – block oil.

Governor Jindal said, “Today, the Louisiana National Guard is again returning to the sand berm we created on the Chandeleur Islands to ensure no more tar balls or oil have washed up on the berm overnight. Guardsmen have been removing the oil trapped by the berm over the last few days – picking up more than 500 pounds of oiled debris.

“The cutterhead dredge CALIFORNIA was back on station at the new borrow site yesterday evening. To date, the CALIFORNIA has dredged nearly 635,000 cubic yards of material on the Chandeleur Islands. On the west side of the river, over 632,000 cubic yards of material has been delivered to the re-handling area.”


ROCKS/BARGES UPDATE
The Governor said that Jefferson Parish officials continue to work on revisions to the rock permit. Parish officials have engaged the scientific community to assist in the development of modifications to the permit to address environmental concerns.

Governor Jindal said, “We continue to encourage the Army Corps of Engineers and BP to quickly resolve this issue of defending Pass Abel and Four-Bayou Pass. The Corps rejected Jefferson Parish’s permit to narrow these passes. BP actually did the right thing initially here in working with Mayor Camardelle and agreed to purchase the rocks needed to narrow these passes. These rocks are on Grand Isle now and could be placed in the passes immediately.

“The parish has requested that BP agree to put the necessary funds in escrow to remove these rocks if they cause environmental damage. The state would not support adverse impacts to these islands. In fact, in the state’s emergency use authorization for this rock and barge plan, we included a condition that requires the removal of the rocks if they are shown to cause adverse environmental damages.

“Let’s be clear – millions of gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf that is polluting our sensitive estuaries, birds, wetland and fisheries and threatening Louisiana’s way of life. BP needs to agree to put the funds in escrow so the parish can submit a revised permit to the Corps.”


ADDITIONAL PROACTIVE COASTAL PROTECTION

  • Louisiana National Guardsmen continue construction operations to install approximately 7 miles of Hesco barrier on the shoreline of Cameron Parish. Thus far, crews have stretched approximately 6 miles of wall to provide an initial protection to the coast. Engineer teams are reinforcing damaged sections and continuing construction operations.
  • At Pelican and Scofield Islands, the Louisiana National Guard is working on a total of 14 gaps. The 8 gaps on Pelican Island are complete. A total of 3,300 sandbags have been dropped. The Louisiana National Guard continues surging helicopter operations on Scofield Island and 4 of the 6 gaps are complete. To date, approximately 14,683 sandbags have been emplaced on Scofield Island. In total, the Louisiana National Guard has placed approximately 32 million pounds of sand to fill coastal gaps.
  • In Plaquemines Parish, the Louisiana National Guard is currently reinforcing the back levee. Work is completed at 4 sites. Work is ongoing to fill sandbags for emplacement.

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