Washington to Approve Construction of All 6 Berms to Protect Louisiana Coast From Oil Spill; BP to Pick Up Cost

June 3, 2010

Decision Comes Days After Cao Confronts Corps Official on Delay

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-02) received word from the White House that the federal government has signed off on the remaining five of six sand berms proposed by the State of Louisiana to protect its coast against the encroaching BP oil spill, and that the Obama administration is directing BP to pay for the construction of all six berms.

The government issued a permit last week for the first of the six berms.

Cao said he is urging the Obama administration to make sure that BP follows its instruction to pay construction costs.

Cao said, “Federal approval of all six berms is an important first step in the right direction. I completely support the White House’s position that BP must be held accountable and that it be forced to pay the cost of protecting the State’s coast from the mess the oil company made.”

In a prepared written statement, Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander, said, “Consistent with all the work undertaken in recent weeks to assess Louisiana’s barrier island proposal and gather input from local officials, environmental experts, and top scientists and engineers, I have directed BP to pay for five additional barrier island projects in addition to the one I approved last week as part of our continuing commitment to do everything possible to protect our vital coastal communities from BP’s leaking oil. Based on a thorough expert analysis, we believe that these six total projects, which will be constructed expeditiously in the areas most at risk for long-term impact by oil, will effectively stem potential damage to these fragile shorelines.

Just last week, Cao confronted Corps of Engineers Deputy Assistant Secretary Terrence C. Salt on what was by then already a two-week delay in making a decision on the state’s request to build the berms.

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,” Cao said.

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