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Gulf oil spill: Louisiana governor urges quick approval to build protective berms

June 1, 2010 |  5:52 pm

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday called for BP to pay for his ambitious plan to build sand berms on the state's barrier islands to protect the coast from oil.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a modified permit for the state to go ahead with a test project, which entails dredging sand from the Gulf of Mexico and erecting 6-foot-high barriers. Jindal's first request was to build 128 miles of the berms, which the Army Corps rejected.

Jindal emerged from a lengthy meeting with federal officials, scientists and local government leaders saying he was more convinced that the remaining permits should be carried through.

"Everything I heard simply strengthens my belief that it makes sense to move forward," he said.

A host of federal agencies have questioned the effectiveness of the berm idea, saying it could take six to nine months to finish the job and the project could have unintended environmental consequences.

Jindal deflected criticism of the effectiveness of the sand booms, saying he'd rather clean oil off of sand than from the marshes, and that the state needs action immediately to protect Louisiana's "way of life."

"We need multiple lines of defense," he said.

U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Thad Allen is expected to reach a decision on whether to approve the rest of the project in 24 hours. "We can't afford to be told to wait for another study," he said.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz, reporting from New Orleans