Obama: Louisiana can build a barrier to block some of the oil - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Obama: Louisiana can build a barrier to block some of the oil

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) – At a lunchtime news conference dealing with the oil spill, President Barack Obama said his administration would work with Louisiana to build a barrier that blocks some of the oil from reaching the Bayou state's shoreline.

While that announcement was being made, the Joint Incident Command Center released a statement from Commander Thad Allen, the man picked by the president to oversee the clean up. The statement said the barrier will save Louisiana the cost of construction for this section by integrating it with the federal government's ongoing oil spill response—thus paving the road for payment by BP, as a responsible party, or the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

It will also allow assessment of the effectiveness and environmental impacts of this strategy in one of the areas most at risk of long-term impact by BP's leaking oil. "We are relentlessly working to secure the spill at source and attack the oil being released using every safe and reasonable technique available," said Allen. "Implementing this section of the proposal will allow us to assess this strategy's effectiveness in protecting coastal communities and habitats of the Gulf region as quickly as possible. We will not be satisfied until the spill is stopped, the oil is removed, the communities are safe, and their way of life restored."

The Army Corps of Engineers has granted partial approval for Louisiana's barrier island project proposal, covering approximately half of the state's original request and including six sections.

Under this permit, but without coordination with Admiral Allen and the Unified Command, Louisiana is authorized to construct the barrier islands at its own expense, so long as construction meets the terms and conditions established by the Army Corps of Engineers and any other required permits are obtained. If Louisiana moves forward, they will need to address all potential costs and environmental impacts.

Admiral Allen's recommendation would integrate a section of the project with the federal oil spill response—and therefore potential funding by BP, as a responsible party, or the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Based on feedback from the Interagency Solutions Working Group established under the NIC and comprised of subject matter experts from the National response Team and other federal agencies, Admiral Allen determined that his recommendation best strikes a balance between three major considerations:

  • The imperative to protect vulnerable Louisiana coastlines;
  • The need for any construction to contribute effectively to the overall response effort, which includes numerous on- and off-shore activities; and
  • The extensive time needed to implement such a strategy.

If the evaluation of the recommended section's effectiveness and environmental impact show a net environmental benefit, additional areas may be considered by the National Incident Commander as part of the oil spill response moving forward.

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