Louisiana officials want to keep building sand berms, man-made islands off the coast, to protect wetlands from the “million of barrels of oil [still] in the Gulf,” even though BP’s leaking well has been sealed.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Louisiana officials on Monday asked the Army Corps of Engineers for an emergency permit to construct berms along 40 miles of coastline.
Federal agencies, independent scientists and environmental groups “continue to gather information on this unprecedented environmental disaster, discover new locations and forms of oil, and acknowledge the value and sensitivity of the ecological system that this emergency response action is working to protect,” wrote Steve Mathies, director of the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration. “Until certainty of the location, threat and effects of the spilled oil is known, stopping actions to protect this important national resource would be irresponsible. We must remain prepared.”
Many scientists and enviro groups have complained to the Corps, however, that the berms are counterproductive, threatening endangered wildlife in the Gulf like sea turtles.
Still, Louisiana officials are asking for the permits. One official, during a flyover of the Gulf which the Times-Picayune reported showed still-visible oil sheen, said, “It’s important to keep in mind that there’s more confirmed oil in the Gulf of Mexico today than there was when this berm project was proposed or approved. There’s still millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf that’s been confirmed.”
The state has also put on hold plans for other large berms, after federal officials nixed the use of a nearby shoal as a sand source.