La. Gov. Jindal demands U.S. government, BP uphold pledges to avert enviromental disaster
Friday, April 30, 2010; 3:59 PM
As a massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico threatened the U.S. coastline Friday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) expressed alarm that prevention efforts so far have been ineffective, and he demanded that the federal government and oil giant BP uphold their commitments to help avert an environmental disaster.
In an afternoon news conference with Obama administration officials, Jindal said he was worried that miles of booms deployed offshore are "not effective" in preventing oil from damaging coastal areas, wildlife and the livelihoods of fishermen. He announced that he is seeking to mobilize 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen for 90 days of duty to help provide security and support the response to the oil spill.
"I do have concerns that BP's current resources are not adequate" to meet three main challenges from the disaster: stopping the leak of oil from a damaged undersea well, protecting the coast and carrying out a swift cleanup.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who visited the area with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other federal officials, stressed that BP, which owns the leaking oil, is "the responsible party" under U.S. law and is "required to fund the cost of cleanup operations." She urged the company to "leverage additional assets" for the effort.
"We have anticipated and planned for a worst-case scenario from day one," Napolitano said. She said the administration is using all available resources to respond to the disaster.
Earlier, the White House pledged not to expand offshore oil drilling until federal investigations are completed into what caused the Deepwater Horizon rig to explode April 20 and sink into the gulf two days later.
With the edge of the massive spill reaching the U.S. coastline late Thursday, and bad weather triggering a coastal flood warning, the crisis is threatening to eclipse the Exxon Valdez as the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested that cleanup efforts could end up costing billions of dollars.
Coast Guard crews patrolled coastal marshes in southeastern Louisiana on Friday in search of areas where the oil has flowed in, the Associated Press reported, and the state of Louisiana diverted thousands of gallons of fresh water from the Mississippi River to try to flush out the wetlands.
Weather was complicating the effort to control the oil spill. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Louisiana coast from Friday until Sunday evening and said waves of six to seven feet were pushing tides several feet above normal. The service also cautioned small craft to expect "strong winds and hazardous seas" through the weekend off the shores of Mississippi and Louisiana.
It forecast winds of 17 to 29 mph with occasional gusts to 38 mph. "Seas are expected to build to 13 feet by Saturday night in the outer coastal waters and near 9 feet in the near shore waters," an advisory said, with "steep breaking waves in shoal areas."
The rough seas slowed efforts by a flotilla of ships to skim the oily mixture from the water's surface, federal officials said. The Pentagon is sending two C-130 Hercules cargo planes to Mississippi to aid in the cleanup, by dumping chemical dispersants on the water. A number of civilian planes have already been doing the same job.