Feds halt berm-building dredging off Louisiana coast

Yesterday, Senator George LeMieux told me in an exclusive interview that the Gulf response is still chaotic, with no clear idea of anyone being in charge or having a clear plan.  States have begun bypassing the feds in responding to the spill; in Florida, the state rented skimmers to keep oil from getting to their beaches after the Obama administration dragged their feet on supplying them.  The feds did start building sand berms to keep the oil out of Louisiana wetlands, but late yesterday they blocked those efforts to save the Louisiana coast:

The federal government is shutting down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done.

If the federal government has “concerns” over the location of the dredging, then they should have made that decision immediately.  After all, they have had 64 days now in which to react to the disaster by building these berms themselves.  Governor Bobby Jindal has been shouting about this very issue since almost the first days of the crisis, along with skimmers, boom, and all sorts of other efforts.

Now, more than two months after the spill started, the government is still vacillating on the precise location from to dredge, a decision that should have been made in hours, not months.  It’s yet another example of a lack of leadership and engagement on this crisis.  Instead of throwing every available resource at the spill, the people in charge are debating the finer points of sand dredging as the oil washes up on shore.  It’s as if this is a  theoretical construct in a graduate-school bull session rather than a real-world disaster requiring actual leadership and decisiveness.

The president of Plaquemines Parish is begging the government to continue its dredging efforts in the seven days it will take to relocate to new positions.  With hurricane season on the horizon, the issue of berms becomes even more urgent.  It would be nice if the Obama administration acted as if they understood that.  Failing that, maybe they should just get out of the way and let Louisiana do what they know is necessary, because that appears to be the only way anything is getting done in the Gulf.