Vitter Blasts EPA, NOAA, Corps Over Bureaucratic Delays

July 6, 2010

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter today sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District Commander Col. Alvin Lee regarding bureaucratic holdups in the urgent effort to protect the Louisiana coast from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Specifically, the letter questions the Corps’ recent rejection of a permit request for the construction of rock barriers near Barataria Bay.

The full text of the letter is below.

July 6, 2010

The Honorable Lisa Jackson The Honorable Jane Lubchenco
Administrator Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460 Washington, DC 20230

Colonel Alvin Lee
Commander and District Engineer
New Orleans District
United States Army Corps of Engineers
PO Box 60267
New Orleans, Louisiana 70160


Dear Administrator Lubchenco, Administrator Jackson, and Colonel Lee:

I write to express my strong and ever growing frustration with yet another example of the faceless bureaucratic mindset of our federal agencies when it comes to protecting the Louisiana coast versus a solutions-oriented approach. On June 7th Jefferson Parish requested a permit for the emplacement of temporary rock dikes in the Barataria Bay passes as a defensive measure against oil intrusion into the bay. As of late last week expectations were that this project would receive the go-ahead from the Corps of Engineers. Appropriately, BP moved forward and procured $16 million in rocks, which are currently sitting in Barataria Bay on roughly 40 barges. However, yesterday the Corps denied the permit request.

In denying the permit, the Corps cited potential for adverse environmental impacts on the bay by the rock dikes. I along with thousands of directly affected Louisiana citizens find this ironic because the oil spill itself is an environmental catastrophe beyond measure. All efforts must be made to limit/lessen the environmental impact of the spill itself. This current impasse is yet another example of the federal bureaucratic bottleneck that so often crushes the can-do attitude of our local communities.

Grand Isle, Jefferson Parish and the state have done everything they can to work with the federal agencies involved in this permit process. The original request for the rock closure of five passes has been reduced to just two. The state has offered a plan by which all rock will be removed at a later date, after the threat of oil penetration of the Barataria Bay has subsided. The parish and state have even recommended a course of action by which rock will be immediately removed if it is determined to have immediate negative environmental impact above that of the oil spill itself. Yet even in the face of this willingness to compromise, the permit has been rejected by the federal agencies involved. Even worse, the federal agencies in charge have offered no alternative solutions or ideas to protect this section of our coast.

I request your immediate attention to this issue and look forward to your written response. My scheduler will be in contact with your agencies shortly to set up a conference call whereby I expect to hear your recommendations for an intelligent way forward with this permit request or alternative ideas.


David Vitter
U.S. Senate

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