Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Let’s Back Billy to Save the Wetlands

I have spent the last 5 weeks as most here in Louisiana feeling a mixture of sadness and anger over the BP oil spill.  While we are no strangers to disaster down here this disaster feels particularly overwhelming because it doesn’t seem like most of us can do much to help.  Unlike Katrina or Rita where average folks could get busy cleaning up debris and helping each other out in this situation we have to trust both BP and the government to take care of things, neither of which have shown themselves very trustworthy.  So I’ve been thinking that maybe instead of waiting for BP to get things together or for the federal bureaucracy to finally mobilize in a meaningful way to protect our wetlands and coast that maybe we should just put our money behind the one guy who seems to be doing something – Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungessor. 

Nungessor has come up with the only plan that seems to make any sense and he is ready to go with it, with or without federal backing.  His plan is to dredge sand from the sea floor and connect the barrier islands with a continuous 6-foot berm.  They would start in the areas that are facing the most direct threat and work there way out.  Why isn’t this plan being implemented by the federal government yet?  Because they want to spend time analyzing what the long term effects may be.  Well, in my opinion the long term effects can’t be anywhere near as bad as filling the wetlands of Louisiana with oil and tar. 

So if the Federal government is dragging their heals and the state government doesn’t have the money to fund this operation and BP is still proving inadequate to help then I say that you and I pitch in.  What would happen if we could get 1 million people in Louisiana to give $50-$100 each to support the efforts of Nungessor and company who are actually trying to do something?  I know 50 to 100 million dollars wouldn’t be enough to get things done but we could at least get things started.  I would gladly give 50 dollars extra a month for the foreseeable future to protect this beautiful state with it’s fragile and diverse ecosystems.  Whose with me? 

Let’s figure out a way to do this.  We need not wait for the state government to raise taxes or for BP to one day do something to protect our wetlands.  Let’s you and I put our money behind the ones really fighting this battle. 

Any ideas on how this might work?


Anonymous said...

This post is simply information passed on. It doesn't reflect my employer's views, or even my own, really. Just FYI.
I spoke to someone the other day who is involved in the permitting process of the dredge plan. It seems that there are some major problems with implementing the entire line of dredged barriers.
1. dredging the floor where they would need to would (i'm told) would severely affect the natural ebb and flow of the aquatic ecosystem just outside of the wetlands. It would hinder the process called Tidal Exchange, and hence cause some stagnation of that water.
2. dredging a continuous line along our wetlandic cost would severely weaken out wetlands, possibly more than helping at this point.
3. the barriers that it would create might not even last through our first few hurricanes, which leaves us with no barrier, and weaker coastline.
4. the project would take about 6-9 months to complete, from what I hear, which wouldn't actually protect us from oil. There's so much oil sub-surface that we can't even see, it's possible that some of it is even inside some of the boom barriers that have been placed.

to reiterate: this is what I've learned from people who are more involved, and more knowledgeable than myself.

My personal view:
Louisiana is way too important to this nation for it to not do SOMETHING. More time and energy and brains need to be spent figuring out an effective and long-term prevention and protection plan. Blame is not important right now, but laziness should not even be slightly tolerated. This is huge.

Carlos said...

I think part of the problem is that there are not any real good solutions. So what do we do? Just sit and see what happens? I think some folks may be kind of tired of helping us out at this point, but you are correct Crispen - Louisiana's gulf coastal wetlands are too valuable to lose. I do not feel that the government or the rest of the nation understands just how valuable our wetlands and coastal areas are to the country. I guess they will figure it out after it is too late. I am interested to see whether more interest is taken when the oil reaches the everglades and the keys like it is projected to do. Will people be concerned then?

Peter said...

Carlos, do elaborate! I live in Twin Falls, ID, and I don't have a sense for how the wetlands are important to the rest of the country. But I'm eager to learn - help me understand!

Pi Man said...

For every action there is a reaction. There is no perfect solution. But to do nothing is not an option. That said,I favor limited barrier islands. On the larger scale, the positives of the barrier islands will far outweigh any the negatives, and those of us that live here know that. I applaud you again, Crispin, for taking such a selfless approach and leading by example in your willingness to do your part. TA