Free Markets, Free People

Obama Orders Louisiana To Halt Berm-Building

I’m beginning to think that the comparisons of Obama’s management of the oil spill to how Hurricane Katrina was handled are completely inapt. In reality, it looks more like the Obama administration should be compared to the storm itself.

Louisiana has been busily building berms about a mile out from the coast to halt the infiltration of oil into its sensitive marshes, wetlands and prime fishing areas. This process was greatly delayed by federal red tape, and now that the state has permits in hand it’s being order to stop because, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, it’s doing it wrong:

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 the dredging is being done.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue.


Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work.

Work is scheduled to halt at midnight Wednesday.

Pat Austin is trying to understand the federal obstruction, but finds that political reasoning is the only thing that makes sense of it all:

I’m trying to see both sides here; I’m trying to understand the “coastal scientists” who contend that the berms will “change tidal patterns” and lead to more long term erosion of the islands, but if the islands are killed off by the oil what difference does it make? To borrow from Greta Perry’s analogy, if my house is on fire, what does it matter what room I try to extinguish first? It’s all doing down.


It seems that the feds are doing everything they can to cripple Louisiana’s own response to this crisis. Bobby Jindal reached his exasperation point long ago when he said, and I’m paraphrasing, If you’re not going to fix it, get out of the way and let us do it ourselves! From the moratorium, and Salazar’s promise to appeal the strike down of that moratorium, to the crazy red tape on the berm projects, to shutting down the skimmer barges for 24 hours, and now this?

Well, we could get the idea that Team Obama was trying to neutralize Jindal’s response, as if he were threatened by Bobby Jindal, or something.

For Billy Nungesser part, he isn’t taking this lying down. He fired off a letter to Obama demanding to be allowed to move forward with the coast-saving project … or else:

Plaquemines parish president Billy Nungesser is furious, drawing a line in the sand with the White House!


Nungesser is targeting President Obama as the only hope for continuing the work. In harsh letter he spelled out an option.

“Don’t shut us down, let us lay the pipe three miles out and then let us move the dredge so we will be down less than a day and we’ll refill the hole,” Nungesser said.

He also issued a threat to the President in the letter if he didn’t do something to help.

“It says if it shuts down, I’ll be on Anderson Cooper at nine…and it won’t be pretty.”

Nungesser also pushed Jindal to, in effect, damn the torpedoes and move full speed ahead:

“I asked the governor to let me stay out there tonight on the dredge, let em come out there and take the permit away.

Tell them the radio not working. We’ll smash it with a hammer.”

I’m actually a little surprised that Jindal hasn’t already taken this approach, citing exigent circumstances and daring Obama to shut him down.

Stepping back for a moment, does anyone else see the connection between the Arizona (and others) illegal immigration law, Gen. McChrystal’s insubordination, and Louisiana’s current predicament? Lacking any coherent direction, policy or plan, these people and entities are forced to take the reins over their particular situations only to be hindered by the Obama administration when they do, or worse, vilified and ridiculed. The lack of leadership creates a vacuum, and people like Jan Brewer, Gen. McChrystal, Bobby Jindal and Billy Nungesser are trying desperately to fill it. If there were ever a clear indication that Obama is an incompetent leader, this it.

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32 Responses to Obama Orders Louisiana To Halt Berm-Building

  • Jindal probably loses no matter what he does (either he is ‘taking on the administration to score points’ or he is ‘failing to take a strong stand’) so I think he should go ahead and defy the administration.  The response to the oil spill was late, and has been horribly handled ever since.  It’s astonishing to see that the administration seems to have done more to block attempts at dealing with the problem, instead of dealing with it themselves and leaving others to try.  The lack of leadership that Bruce has decried for so long has been on full display so far, with Obama managing to top himself a few times already.  Simply unbelievable.

    • Better they should prevent others from fixing the problem.  Then they can leave it in the realm of “might have been” – examined way in the future, buried today by the media, buried in a dusty report tomorrow and lost.
      Whereas if these ‘interlopers’ succeed in their efforts DESPITE the Administration, and do it WHILE people are paying attention.  Ahh….that could look bad.

    • Jindal probably loses no matter what he does

      I disagree. Forging ahead and doing things, when the administration was telling him to sit back and just get creamed, may create a bit of enmity between him and the administration, but that’s the end of the negatives. He’ll have the support of his state and the country and it’ll cost the Obama administration a great deal of their remaining credibility. Obama’s not done with his Grand Transformative Plan and he can not afford to lose that credibility.
      In fact, the administration is in grave danger here; if a narrative hardens that they are actively impeding this effort, stick a fork in them, they’re done. This is an impeachment-when-the-R-majority-comes-in-scale issue, and it wouldn’t even be political, the Republicans would be right.

  • Your analysis is purely political and not at all reflective of any scientific consideration of whether or not the berms are a good idea, or if the damage will be “just as bad” no matter what they do.   You are assuming they are a good idea, and dismissing scientists because, well, I guess because they don’t agree with what your political perspective would prefer to see as reality (Obama stopping something that will work).   That’s very weak logic, there’s no reason to assume you know more about this than the scientists who study this (or that Jindal or Obama know more than the scientists who are paid to study this and make their recommendation.   Your “analysis” represents what’s wrong with politics today — your political perspective is trumping any effort to rationally  assess the plan.   Lately the ODS on the right has seemed pretty over the top (though Obama’s numbers seem stable).

    • You’re right, with your inside information you are aware that the only ‘scientists’ consulted would be the ones working for the Army Corp of Engineers.  It’s just not possible that Louisiana has anyone who could possibly understand any of this technical scientific sort of stuff.  They probably hired a collection of street people, gave them shovel and pirogue’s and sent them out there to dredge where ever they felt like it.
      Thank god the Federal Government intervened!  After all, what the hell do the people of Louisiana know about their coastline?  Nothing!!!!  Experts only live in Washington and important east and west coast cities….like…. East Mooseport Maine.

    • Scott appears not to be paying much attention.   “Fish and Wildlife” are shutting down the dredging because they feel the sand is being taken from an area too close to the barrier island.  Of course, “Fish and Wildlife” don’t seem to make any prediction as to what will happen if the oil reaches and passes the barrier island.  It is obvious the reason they don’t address that is because if the oi does reach and bypass the barrier islands, the devastation will be larger, more widespread, and longer lasting than any damage to the barrier island from the dredging.  Interesting, the Army Corp of Engineers is responsible for the permit and the permit has not been withdrawn:  “The Army Corps of Engineers oversees the permitting process. A corps spokesman says the permit has not been suspended.”
      it is hard not to see this as a petty territorial squabble.  Scott, however is sure it is all about science, but has no comment about the lack of science in any of the news stories.  One would expect if Fish and Wildlife had good science, they would offer that science front and center.  Scott seems to think that is not necessary.

    • K’Ching!  Another 30 pieces of silver!

    • In the real world, decisions must be made. The choice is between dredging, which will prevent the oil from damaging the wetlands and *possibly* causing unacceptable erosion in the future, and doing nothing, which will guarantee destruction and erosion of the wetlands. As we know by now, doing nothing is your preferred choice.

  • The official line is that there is no coping, mitigating, or preventing such disasters.  What happened here is what happens when you drill.  No ‘in between’ or acceptable risk. 

    Its the same as protecting the border.  Its just too insurmountable a task.  So we shouldn’t have a border, (well except for tax purposes). 

    Its the opposite of ‘work to rule’.  Neglect the rules and then claim nothing can be done so we must change. 

  • Good Lord, this has gone from bizarre to completely effing unbelievable! I think it is high time to reassert citizens & state’s rights.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but we consent to being governed by the buffoons in DC, right? What if we withdraw our consent? What if we say, ‘No mas!’ en mass?  What if Jindal says, “Thanks for your input…but no. We will do it our way and you will just have to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act if you want to send the military to intervene.” ?
    Do not misunderstand me here….I am no ’60’s radical that sits around singing Kum-ba-ya. But if the American people don’t start peacefully protesting the systematic dismantling of our country and the destruction of our way of life now, we may have to fight in the streets before these fools are swept out.

  • This process was greatly delayed by federal red tape, and now that the state has permits in hand it’s being order to stop because, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, it’s doing it wrong:

    Wrong.  But we’ll get to that in a minute.
    First let us examine the goal here.  Mr. Wade has no desire to actually examine the facts and question whether or not if the halt on the building of the berms is a good idea.  He wishes to throw out the suggestion that the Obama administration is ordering his department to halt work because Obama fears that that someone might take political glory.  What a sorry piece of logical connection.
    Now back to your all too frequent habit of being factually wrong.  The permits that they “had in hand” did not allow for what they were doing…

    Strickland said the state originally agreed to take sand from an area in the northern Chandeleurs, but had been been pumping from a more sensitive area in the middle part of the chain. He said earlier this month the state asked for a week’s extension on its agreement to run pipe to the more desired area but did not meet the deadline. “All we are trying to do is hold them to their own agreement,” Strickland said.

    I mean, did you even read your own links?
    Maybe the concerns of Strickland and the US Dept. of Fish and Wildlife are valid, maybe they are not.  But that doesn’t concern you does it?  You saw what you thought was an open target and you took your shot.  Before one even ventures into what could be alternative motives from the Obama administration, you are already guilty of ignoring facts and laying political blame.
    Have you even considered that the Interior Dept. may have valid concerns?  That these “coastal scientists” (oh, and I love how often scientists are put in scare quotes) actually have legitimate criteria?
    Or do you simply read “Obama is evil” and stop there?
    How pathetic is this knee-jerk partisan hackery?

    • Ummm … is it not a fact that fish and wildlife don’t survive very well when suffocated in oil? This is a question of what’s more important. Reading really is not your strong point, is it?

      • This is a question of what’s more important.

        Pity then you didn’t ask that.  Or explore the idea, or anything else.  You asked about political agendas and leadership skills.  You never addressed whether or not the “coastal scientists” had legitimate concerns.  Or do you even care?
        Writing really is not your strong point, is it?

        • You’re going to have to do better than that, Pogue.

          I provided a factual assessment of what was happening as of this morning. I drew my conclusion about the lack of leadership. Nowhere did I question anyone’s science, although I linked to someone questioning the federal government’s priorities.

          So, what exactly was it that drew your ire, other than me deigning to post my thoughts on something?

          • Oh, I don’t know… perhaps I just can’t resist to correct you when you color outside the lines.
            Your line of reasoning is disastrously flawed.  You go from the Department of Fish and Wildlife halting work on an island to Obama being politically afraid of Bobby Jindal.  And with no evidence whatsoever, that’s quite a jump.  Also, suggesting that you merely linked to someone who thought that doesn’t help you – you quoted it for a reason, however subtle, and put your name on it.
            But hey, if you believe that Mr. Austin’s suggestion is false or weak, then let us know.  But you don’t, or you would have never quoted it in the first place.
            Whatever happened to good old fashion government bureaucratic incompetence?  Like your fantasies of “dealergate”, why does everything have to be a conspiracy theory with you?  It’s a laugh.  Why would Obama risk political suicide to see Louisiana coated in oil by having a low level bureaucrat deny locals from building a berm just because he is afraid of Bobby Jindal!?  It’s crazy!!
            Don’t you see how crazy that is???

          • Yeah, I see crazy. In your inane ramblings.

            And I’m way over having to explain the plain meaning of words to you. If you can’t understand what I write, and everyone else seems to get it, at some point it dawns on the rational person where the problem lies.

          • Yeah, you’re no crazy conspiracy theorist, are you?
            It’s not like you thought Obama was singling out car dealerships owned by republicans, did you?
            It’s not like you and Bachman thought that Obama was going to funnel billions of dollars to ACORN, did you?
            And it’s not like you thought that Obama was secretly ordering his Interior Dept. to halt berm building so Bobby Jindal doesn’t look good, did you?
            Oh wait, you did.
            You’re a batsh!t crazy conspiracy theorist, Mr. Wade.  I look forward to your theories on the Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch, and the moon landing in Arizona.

          • I’ll repeat an earlier post:
            If you have never Googled Pogue Mahone, it is a Gaellic term that means “kiss my ass”.  So, we know what his opinion is really worth.  It is hard to take him seriously.

          • I’d tell you to quit reading me if you don’t like what I write, but it’s rather apparent you don’t read what I write.

            I can’t count the number of times that I’ve tried to disabuse you of your nutball interpretations, all to no avail because you don’t care about what I actually write, but instead what you suppose I secretly mean.

            Oh, and you should probably look into what “conspiracy theory” actually means before you go making such imbecilic charges again. I’ll give you a hint:

            — Claims that the Bush Cabal and their Jewish masters orchestrated 9/11 with controlled demolitions and missiles = “Conspiracy Theory”

            — Claims that perhaps, maybe, if actual hard research back it up, a presidential administration handed out favors to its political cronies through an abuse of executive power = “Skepticism”

            Since I know you’ll ignore this advice, I can only assume that you’re beyond help.

          • You call this “skepticism”?
            If you would have simply left it at the locals stepping up to prevent oil from washing up on their shores, and the federal government doing nothing at all and perhaps even hindering their response as evidence that Obama is showing no leadership – you would have been fine.
            But you didn’t.  You tried to go to that bridge too far.
            There is no other reason to believe that you quoted Mr. Austin’s fantastic charge that Obama is actively hindering the local’s actions because Obama is afraid of Jindal other than you believe that this is a credible charge.  If there is another reason, you certainly didn’t make it clear in your original post or in any of your comments.  Even after being asked.
            Pipe in at any time, dude.
            Now back to what you believe is healthy skepticism, and not some wild-eyed conspiracy theory.
            To come to the conclusion that Obama is actively trying to thwart Jindal and the locals, one would have to assume many things that 1) are highly unlikely, and 2) having no benefit of any evidence whatsoever.
            Let’s just look at a few… and I’ll even spot you one.  Let’s give you that Obama is actually politically afraid of Mr. Exorcism, Bobby Jindal – Republican from Louisiana.
            One would have to assume that,
            a)  there is no good reason, at all, to halt the berm construction.
            b)  Obama is fully aware that these locals are constructing the berms not in accordance with the permits
            c)  Obama orders Strickland to halt the construction, absent any recommendation from Strickland to do so
            d)  Strickland agrees to halt construction purely for politics sake
            e)  Strickland puts more importance on his job than he does tons of oil washing up on American shores – resisting the urge to blow the whistle and then becoming the darling of the Right and obvious book deals
            f)  Strickland and Obama convinces “coastal scientists” to also agree to that
            g)  “Coastal scientists” also put more importance on their jobs than they do seeing tons of oil wash up
            h)  Obama wishes to risk what would no doubt be political suicide over fears that Bobby Jindal might look good, and chances all of this on dozens of people being able to keep their mouth shut for the indefinite future
            And we could go on.  The assumptions one would have to make to come to this charge are countless.  All of which are highly unlikely – all of which have no evidence at all to back them up.
            You could either defend Mr. Austin’s incredible assumptions, or you could defend your choice to quote them.

        • Actually the experts weighed in and the wetlands are the biggest problem with oil contamination because the oil tends to stay and not be flushed out.  And it isn’t practical for people to clean them up when they are contaminated.
          It seems to me the damage from the oil contamination is essentially permanent while damage inflicted from the berms is reversible at our discretion.

    • “Don’t shut us down, let us lay the pipe three miles out and then let us move the dredge so we will be down less than a day and we’ll refill the hole,” Nungesser said.
      “Strickland said the state originally agreed to take sand from an area in the northern Chandeleurs, but had been been pumping from a more sensitive area in the middle part of the chain. He said earlier this month the state asked for a week’s extension on its agreement to run pipe to the more desired area but did not meet the deadline. “All we are trying to do is hold them to their own agreement,” Strickland said.”
      So, they’re worried about a hole that the Louisiana guys know they’re making and claim to have figured out how they can refill without losing a week adjusting the dredge…which appears to be their concern.

      • So Pouge is missing some facts, as well.

        • If you have never Googled Pouge Mahone, it is a Gaellic term that means “kiss my ass”.  So, we know what his opinion is really worth.  It is hard to take him seriously.

  • Imagine…

    The federal government is shutting down the helicopter fleet that was being used to rescue people stranded in flooded parts of New Orleans.
    The helicopters are meant to rescue residents from flood waters due to Hurricane Katrina. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concerns about the exhaust from the helicopters’ engines.

    Somehow, I’m guessing that there wouldn’t be too much defense of the scientists at EPA in such a case.  Rather, there would be even louder howls for Bush’s blood.

  • Ya know, all in all, it’s not specifically Imeme that stopped this,  it’s one of the 5 thousand 3 hundred 44 government agencies involved in helping out that did (Okay, I exaggerate, but let’s face it, it’s not ONE agency involved, or even as few as 5….).
    This is that leadership cutting red tape thingy that we’re talking about, and what caused Nungesser to appeal DIRECTLY to the President in the hopes he might pull out his scissors for this.

    • Careful – You want this President out there running around with a pair of scissors in his hands.  Oh, the Humanity!!!!!

    • Excellent point.  It’s easy (and fun!) to lay all this at the feet of the Lightworker, our messianic president who causeth the oceans to recede and the planet to heal, but the fact is that the buck that ends at his desk has to wind its way through an increasingly huge bureaucracy.  From the standpoint of bureaucrats and politicians, a big bureaucracy is a wonderful thing because it spreads responsibility around to the point that nobody has to take the fall when things go bad, or even do much of anything at all.  From the standpoint of citizens who need quick action from the government, it’s not so hot.*

      It would be interesting to see MiniTru actually try to track down the functionary at Fish and Wildlife who made that decision.  It seems to me that they never do this: if they can’t pin it quickly and easily on AT LEAST a cabinet-level person, they aren’t interested.

      Oh, and isn’t it too bad that some big-shot politicians don’t own large tracts of property down on the Gulf Coast?  We’d see damned quick action then.


      (*) There is a good scene in the Kurosawa movie “Ikuru” that dramatizes this: a group of women in post-war Tokyo are concerned about a filthy cesspool in their neighborhood.  They go to the city government to see about getting it cleaned up.  For nearly five minutes of film, Kurosawa shows them being shunted from department to department, up the chain and back down again, only to wind up right back where they started.