Planet Gore

Fact-Checking Governor Jindal’s BP Statements

PolitiFact:

We wanted to check Jindal’s claim that the federal government only ordered BP to pay “to do one of those six segments.” The Obama administration has said over and over that the oil company BP will pay for the clean up, and we wondered how to reconcile that with Jindal’s statements.

It turns out that Jindal is right about BP paying for one of six segments of sand barriers, but there’s more to the story. As Tapper’s comment suggested, the feds aren’t so keen on the idea of building sand berms. Federal agencies are chiefly concerned that they can’t be constructed quickly enough to intercept the oil, and that they will divert money and attention from other efforts.

Nevertheless, on Thursday, May 27, 2010, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said the government would give permission for the construction of six barriers and authorize BP to pay for one, as a test to see if the barrier plan is feasible. That one barrier would cost $16 million and be paid for by BP or the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

“Louisiana’s original proposal called for the dredging of more than 92 million cubic yards of material over a six to nine month period to build temporary barrier islands,” said a statement issued by the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command. The group approved a more limited project because “implementation of the proposal in all areas approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, in the midst of an active spill, would not be prudent or provide effective protection — especially considering the complications of a major construction project occurring in the midst of a response encompassing more than 20,000 personnel and 1,300 vessels.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers listed 33 separate conditions that had to be met, including protections for navigation channels and wildlife.Allen said the approval was meant as a test case. “There are a lot of doubts whether this is a valid oil spill response technique, given the length of construction and so forth,” he said. “But we’re not averse to attempting this as a prototype.”

Some environmentalists also criticized initial proposals for dredging sand for the barriers too close to shore, according to a report in the Times-Picayune newspaper. After changes were made to address those concerns, the cost estimates for the barriers rose from $250 million to $350 million.

The state government could move to build the barriers with state money, but Jindal has rejected that idea without a guarantee of reimbursement.

So Jindal is right that the federal government has authorized payment for only one of six barriers. But he leaves out the fact that the government has doubts about the plan and whether it will work or not, and the first barrier is meant as a test case. We rate his statement Mostly True.

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