Corps Approves Construction of Sand Berm to Stop Oil After Cao Confronts Official on Delays

May 27, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued Louisiana an emergency permit to build a six-foot-high sand berm south of Scofield Island to protect Barataria Bay from the encroaching BP oil spill. But the permit does not authorize construction of another five proposed berms requested by the state, and Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-02) vowed to keep pressure on the Corps for approval of the others.

The approval came nearly a week after Louisiana’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to the Corps and the Coast Guard urging quick approval of the berm construction plan submitted May 11th by Gov. Bobby Jindal, and one day after Cao confronted Corps of Engineers Deputy Assistant Secretary Terrence C. Salt on delays in making a decision.

In a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Cao questioned Salt about an environmental impact study the Corps said it had to do before acting. Cao asked: “Why are we spending time to do an environmental impact study when the oil threatens to destroy everything?”

Salt responded: “… I think the Corps is proceeding with its analysis on that and expects a decision…”

Cao interjected, “… but it seems to me that the longer we delay, even a day, two days, three days, can lead to very devastating effects, to the Gulf Coast region, to the marshes and to the estuaries. And how hard is it to make a decision with respect to allow the berms to be built or not… and I don’t know why it takes a week to make a decision. I can make one right now.”

BP is to pay for construction of the Scofield Island berm.

Cao applauded today’s decision, but said it is only a partial solution. The Congressman said, “This at least allows us to begin building a defense line against the encroaching spill, but I will continue to press the Corps for approval of more berms to maximize the protection of our coast.”

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