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NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden (5:00 PM)
The NOLA Project presents this festive comedy that pits two of Shakespeare's most beloved characters, Benedick and Beatrice, in a war of words and wits
1445 Pauger Street (6:00 PM)
Cultural philanthropists Dorian and Kel Bennett have opened their historic Marigny home for this inaugural event with music, theater and dance performances
Circle Bar (10:00 PM)
Punk rock on Lee Circle
Walter Wolfman Washington
d.b.a. (10:00 PM)
Fiery blues on Frenchmen - every week
Curren$y's Jet Lounge
Blue Nile (10:00 PM)
The NOLA rapper's weekly party
Banks Street Bar (10:00 PM)
Blues rock and BLTs!
Country Club (All Day)
Weekly Wed Gig- $3 martinis and free admission for the service industry folks.
Tom McDermott and Meschiya Lake
Chickie Wah Wah (8:00PM)
Weekly Wed Gig- Piano man meets a golden voice.
Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses
Weekly Wed Gig- Gypsy jazz upstairs in the Marigny
Hi-Ho Lounge (8:00PM)
Weekly Wed Gig- from the street to the stage. Midnight Snax throwdown follows at 10pm.
dba (7:00 PM)
Weekly Wed Gig- The world's premiere washboard-sousaphone-guitar trio.
Treme Brass Band
Candlelight Lounge (9:00 PM)
Weekly Wed Gig- Pass on by and see the 6th Ward’s home band
NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden (5:00 PM)
The NOLA Project presents this festive comedy that pits two of Shakespeare's most beloved characters in a war of words and wits
City Park’s Botanical Garden (5:00 PM)
New Orleanian songwriter performs at the weekly outdoor concert series
The Ogden Museum (6:00 PM)
Singer/ songwriter who has recently performed at Austin City Limits Music Festival and provided tour support for Raul Malo and the Wood Brothers
The Foundation Gallery (6:00 PM)
A screening of Maya's award-winning animation "Pareidolia" followed by a Q &A with the artist
Snug Harbor (8:00 & 10:00 PM)
The third evening of a chamber music festival that has something for classical aficionados and dilettantes alike
Hi Ho Lounge (9:00 PM)
Hip hop artist raps on St. Claude with his album Trap Hop
Circle Bar (10:00 PM)
Performing tracks from the new album 'What a World'
Heretics of Dune
Environmentalists Slam Jindal Berm Plan
Gov. Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser have become media darlings over the past few weeks, but coastal geologist Dallon Weathers has been shaking his head.
“Categorically, across the board, every coastal scientist that I can think of does not support this plan,” said the University of New Orleans professor.
Jindal and Nungesser have been in front of any TV camera they can find hawking their plan to build sand berms off of barrier islands to stop oil from entering the coastal marshlands at the southern tip of Plaquemines Parish.
Along the way, they’ve blamed the federal government for slowing up the process.
“We know it works, we have seen it work, but if they need to see it work, they need to do that quickly,” Jindal said of the sand wall plan Thursday in Port Fourchon, where a dredge was digging up sand to use on a wall approved for construction by the federal government. “We don’t want the federal government creating excuses for BP. They could have built nearly 10 miles of sand boom already if they would have approved our permit request when we originally requested it.”
But Weathers, who was studying the Southeast Louisiana coast long before the oil spill started, doesn’t think the $350 million sandwalls will protect the coast from oil at all. He said the plan is violating many of the principles drilled into burgeoning scientists’ heads in 100-level coastal geology courses.
“People are looking for a glimmer of hope, then they jump on it because they don’t really know how the coast works that well,” he said.
Leonard Bahr, a retired coastal scientist and advisor to five governors on coastal issues, said the state hasn’t even called coastal experts outside the government for their input, even though a project of this size, scope, and purpose has never been attempted before.
“We've got this amazing brain trust that's not being used,” he said.
Jindal’s plan (see *The Battle for the Berm*) calls for 100 miles of sand walls, or berms, in front of barrier islands on both sides of the Mississippi River.
The sand would keep more oil from flowing into coastal marshes. Oil began leaking from the unsecured Macondo deepwater well after the April 20th explosion and subsequent sinking. Sand for the walls would be dredged from other coastal areas, and transported to the barrier islands on barges, state documents show.
The deposited dredge material would stand six feet tall. Jindal has claimed the berms could begin working in ten days, but the federal government is putting a timeline of 6-9 months on the project, documents state. Among a litany of issues with the project, Weathers said the walls would probably wash away, and they would disrupt the tidal ecosystem.
Weathers said any sand piled that close to shore would immediately begin to erode back to the coast.
“If you went and came back later on, it’ll be indiscernible from the beach that was behind it,” he said.
He said building the wall is not that different from building a sandcastle on the beach. “I think a lot of people have built a sandcastle at high tide, and by low tide it’s washed away,” he said. “It’s the same principle.”
But he added that keeping oil on a beach is preferable to keep it on the wetlands. “The beach doesn’t really have a lot of things directly on it compared to the marsh,” he said. “The beach is also easier to clean up than the marsh.”
Plans call for the wall would to stretch out continuously in front of the barrier islands in front of the barrier islands. But putting a wall in front of the coast would completely change the ecoystem, Weathers said. Since the Gulf of Mexico is tidal, the currents that flow through the marshlands along the coast would be disrupted.
“There’s a certain volume of water that needs to go through the various inlets,” he said. “It’s a plumbing issue.”
The ebb and flow of the tide is built into the life cycles for the huge amount of plants and wildlife in the area. To disrupt that tide is to disrupt those ecosystems, Weathers said. “There’s a percent chance that (wildlife) get affected by the oil,” he said of the many species of marine and plant life that live on the coast. But, if the shore is walled off, he said “there’s a 100% chance that they affect (wildlife’s) chance to carry on as they do.”
State documents show plans to leave small spaces in the wall for tidal flow.
With oil already infiltrating coastal marshlands, it’s unclear if the walls would be all that helpful in stopping oil. Even if the leak stopped today, Weathers said it would still be reaching the coast a month from now. “You have to think if it’s still leaking oil, there’s at least one month of actual beach oiling,” he said. “The berm’s not going to be ready in a month.”
An alternative to building a continuous wall could be to build berms in several hot spots where most of the oil is coming in anyway, said LSU coastal scientist Joseph Suhayda.
Oil is only hitting several spots on the shore, rather than fanning out along the entire coastline. Most likely, that’s because of the netting, or booms, that are already in place to stop the oil from hitting shore. It’s also because of the tides, currents and wind patterns, Suhayda said.
“There’s a reason why those X’s are where they are,” he said, referring to spots on the map where oil is shown hitting shore.
If roughly 5-mile sections of wall were built in areas where most of the oil is concentrating, Suhayda said a majority of the oil would still be blocked. The project would also move much faster building the wall in sections.
Some sections could be ready in two or three weeks, he said.
“Is it feasible to build 5 miles instead of 60 miles? Well, ya” he said.
The project is moving forward quickly despite objections.??The Army Corps of Engineers gave the green light for 45 miles of berms last week (see our earlier story). The federal government said yesterday they would force BP to foot the bill for construction. The cost of the berms is estimated between $51 million and $155 million, according to a statement released by the governor's office. ??Last week, the federal government's point man for oil spill cleanup initially signaled that he would only put BP on the hook for the construction of one berm as a tryout. But that changed after word came down from the White House to make BP pay for everything the Corps approved, the statement said??Jindal indicated he would continue to work for approval of the entire project, which has an estimated price tag of $350 million.
And the Politics...
Jindal and Nungesser have been using the sand wall plan to attack the federal government for dragging its feet, and doing too little to help coastal Louisiana clean up the oil. “This is becoming a political deal,” Bahr said.
Angry outbursts on TV have elevated the pair to full-on media darlings. Diane Sawyer’s eyelashess were aflutter as she crowned Nungesser last week’s “Person of the Week.”
An editorial in *The New Republic* Friday said Jindal “has displayed the kind of smarts and ideological flexibility that we should applaud in our leaders, no matter the party.”
But the two also happen to be Republicans, and they’re conveniently slamming a Democratic president (Barack Obama) on the national stage without being questioned virtually at all about the truth of their accusations.
For Weathers’ constituency-- Louisiana experts that have been dealing with coastal issues for years – the sand wall plan inspires another kind of outrage.
“People don’t realize that all of the federal government in this case is not some weird backroom of the Senate where these guys are smoking cigars,” he said.
“These people are citizens and in many cases they are from here. They’ve decided to take a job to help with the coast in a lot of cases…It’s not like they’re trying to hold up the plan just for spite, they just have legitimate concerns.
They’re not only feeling squeezed out of the process. They’re feeling the materials they wanted to use to restore the coast slipping through their fingers.
Proving that every last bit of the ecosystem can be termed fragile in coastal Louisiana, sand – just like the stuff that gets between your toes on the beach -- is also a commodity off the coast.
As Jindal threatens to take action immediately, experts and
environmentalists are forced to watch him attempt to commandeer in a matter of days what little sand is available for coastal restoration projects that have been in the works for years.
“Once you use that sand you can't use it again,” Bahr said. “It'll disappear. Then when we have a really good plan we won’t have any sand to use it.”
Suhayda pointed out that the sand might wash up on the beach, and make it reusable. “The fact that (the walls) wouldn’t be there permanently is actually an advantage,” he said of the sand.
Suhayda wasn’t as agitated as other scientists about not being consulted. He said he was likely to be involved on the project, just as he has been on other coastal projects, if the full plan was approved by the feds.
Without the money for the project, he said there hasn’t been a lot of time to do a detailed study.
“Nobody’s going to pay you to attend a bunch of meetings and do a bunch of modelings at this point,” he said. But meetings and modelings are exactly what Jindal says he is seeking to avoid.
“You’re making the best of a pretty bad situation,” Suhayda said. “A lot of this is fairly new unfortunately. A lot of what’s being tried is ‘well, let’s see if this works.’”
NoDef e-mailed questions about the project to Jindal spokesman Frank Collins, but didn’t receive a reply. A spokesman for Nungesser didn’t return a request for an interview.
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