After failure of top kill, a growing chorus of Louisiana lawmakers are demanding that the plan to build barrier islands to protect ecologically sensitive marshes move forward.
After almost three days of trying, news trickled out of BP yesterday that the much-anticipated "top-kill" procedure to stop the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico had failed. The failure of the latest subsea efforts to stop the oil leak may galvanize public support generate more public support for the barrier island plan put forth by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and others more than two weeks ago. Under the plan, contractors would dredge sand from the floor of the Gulf to build a series of barrier islands to protect Louisiana's threatened coastline and marshes from the encroaching oil.
A growing coalition of Louisiana lawmakers including senators Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) are calling on BP and the U.S. Government to immediately move forward with the barrier island plan to protect marshes, wetlands and estuaries across the region.
Depending on who you ask, cost estimates for the proposed barrier islands are somewhere between $350 million and $1 billion. A cost that should be born by BP, says Gov. Jindal. “The federal government shouldn’t be making excuses for BP,” said Jindal on ABC’s “This Week” broadcast. “This is their spill, their oil. They’re the responsible party. Make them responsible.”
Louisiana officials are eager to get moving on construction because the dredges will take more than a week to get the islands built. "Time is our enemy," Plaquemines Parish President Nungesser said. "It'll take 10 days to start pumping. With hurricane season fast approaching, that's our enemy. It won't take much of a storm to lift this oil, roll it up in a wave and drop it into our marsh."
When news about the failed top-kill procedure made its way to Nungesser on Saturday, the vocal critic of the BP and federal response echoed the message found on t-shirts at the Plaquemines Parish Seafood Festival that read, "Dredge baby, dredge."
"We got to build these barrier islands. We got to build them now," said Nungesser. "We will never keep the oil out if we don't."
A final decision from the White House on the barrier island plan is expected imminently.
Photos: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/SW) Jonathen E. Davis; U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley.