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June 4th, 2010
06:30 AM ET

Gut Check: Are sand berms a smart defense?

By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello, CNN

(CNN) – Fans of the Star Trek television series and movies will no doubt recall the recurring struggle between the emotional Captain Kirk and the logical Spock. Crises as big as the universe itself in the end were somehow averted as emotion and science put their very different heads together.

As for our very own earthly crisis, the giant oil spill in the Gulf, right now science is flummoxed. The best scientists and engineers can’t figure out how to stem the flow or prevent the oil from reaching shore.

Is it time for a little emotion?

"All you need to do is look at this brown pelican, our state bird,” an emotional Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal pronounced Thursday just feet from the oil drenched bird and in full view of a gaggle of reporters.

The governor is usually pretty low-key, but not these days. Here’s a sample:

"I don't want to see a drop of oil on Louisiana's coast!"

“We’re frustrated!”

“Cut us a check!”

“This is their oil! Their damage! They caused this!”

And he’s not alone. It’s not often a U.S. congressman cries on the floor of the House. But that’s precisely what Rep. Charlie Melancon did the other day when describing the environmental disaster affecting his state.

There is a sense of doom here and, some say politicians in their eagerness to do something are calling for solutions that may not work, like giant, six foot high walls of sand – "sand berms." It’s a concept the politicians say has been in their Area Contingency Plan with the Corp of Engineers.

Governor Jindal, again:

“You wouldn't tell a drowning person give us time to do another study. You wouldn't tell a drowning person to just be patient. You would help them!”

President Obama finally agreed, under pressure. He has approved six berm sites, although just one is under construction.

Would these giant sand walls really work? Louisiana environmentalist Mel Landry says, “there are instances where they would be of benefit.” Landry studies the barrier islands and marshlands that Louisiana politicians are desperate to protect.

On a recent boat ride, Landry pointed to an island five miles off Grand Isle's coast. Workers here are restoring the beach, but the work gives us a picture of what it takes to build a berm.

Sand is dredged from the bottom of the Gulf and pumped from a barge to the islands where it gushes up on-shore. That sand could be used to build a berm. Landry has mixed feelings about the idea: “If they're trying to build a berm from across the front of every barrier island, where there is sensitive habitat for nesting birds, then it could have adverse impacts because these birds nest on the ground. Their nests are just little sand depressions they're laying the eggs in. So if you're all over that with a bulldozer, you're certainly going to be impacting those nests."

Landry adds the berms could be blown away in a hurricane and could also disrupt natural tidal flows if they're used to block "gaps" between barrier islands. Another very emotional Louisiana politician, Plaquemines Parrish President Billy Nungesser insists, “this is the only thing that can give us a fighting chance of saving south Louisiana.”

So, chalk up one for emotion: the berms will go up, BP will dole out $360 million for the project, and maybe science will be the better for it. Or not.

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • Gut Check
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Cando

    If your a person around the marshes YES.
    If your an enviromentalist NO.
    So the news will be the one that gets the most people fired up.
    Who cares about how much. lets spend money on clean up not wasting time and money on something does nothing for the enviroment.
    If we want BP to clean it up then we need to let it get done instead of hauling them to a hearing for ? we all now already. Congress has hearings to find out if they should have a meeting.
    This shows how much our Gov. is reactive instead of being pro active.
    Can't see past the next ELECTION.

    June 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  2. Rick

    Sand berms! On the coast here in SW Florida they try "renourishing" the beaches on an annual basis, spending millions. Yet, usually before the "renourishment" is done the typical daily tides and currents have washed away half the sand. A patient observer, who takes a moment to watch the beach renourishment proceedings, will see the sand being washed away even as it's pumped onto the shore. If even a minor squall with 15-25 mile and hour winds comes along the process is accelerated. Sometimes whole channels are closed in a matter of twelve hours, joining two islands. Mother Nature is a much more powerful force than anything humankind can build, regardless of our technology and the ocean is probably her most powerful and irresistable force.

    The real answer to this problem is not to drill. As for those who might lose their livelihoods, well it's time to learn a new skill, to adapt and overcome. Yet, henever this action is suggested, it comes back to the economy. The issue is one of whose greed trumps the other. And, it's "my" greed that always wins!

    Mother Nature has kept the oil off our shores for millions of years, using her own "cap" that's called solid rock. But, we humans come along and "poke" holes in it in the interests of satisfying our greed. We have upset the balance and unfortunately for we humans, it's going to hurt to respore Mother Nature's balance. If we don't, she will and it will hurt, in a much, much worse way.

    Oh and regarding Julia Reed's head popping off? Who cares! That would be something to see. If I was President Obama I might do something to precipitate that.

    June 16, 2010 at 7:19 am |
  3. Cando

    Darn if u do, darn if u don't.
    What everyone forgets is mother nature has delt with worse than this.
    I've seen Foerst in Washington state Burn to the ground and come back better and stronger for it.
    I've seen hurricane force winds blow down hunreds of arces and after removing downed trees. It's replanted and know there 2 years old and thriving.
    We'll end up discovering that the marshes out there will be a major player in controling the spread of oil. And in time we may see that those same marshes will recover in time.

    June 11, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  4. James Trussell

    Previously i wrote to this blog about using feathers in those plastic floatable tubes to absorb the oil along with the sand berms. It seems that oil sticks to feathers more that any other material, so use dried chicken feathers in as many tubes as needed to contain the oil.
    Next I think that BP could make a huge type of bell-shaped 50 ton device or more, or even a 100 ton device if needed to sink it to the spill and cover it.
    Then while making this device have a two foot hole in the top with a check valve to do two things first to dissipate water as it is lowered to the ocean floor, and to use the hole to retrive the crude oil.
    There is more to this , but this a suggestion and I know this will work just give it to your engineers.

    June 11, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  5. Henry Remington

    Why don't they install a refrigeration coil around the well head and freeze the oil coming out. It will become its own plug. a temporary fix

    June 9, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  6. Philip Avon St. Cyr

    "First, do no harm."

    That's the guideline for doctors. Why isn't it guiding anyone here?

    The problem is that this MAY be busy work, being pushed, paid for and provided solely to make some people look good (and others look bad) in the Gulf region.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Personally, I find the facts AND the decisionmaking to be very, very murky. I'm really not sure where I stand on it, to tell you the truth.

    June 6, 2010 at 9:30 am |
  7. Claire

    The real question is why the freighter was able to get that close in the first place and why the people on the oil rig were not equipped to intercept it and blow it off the face of the earth before it made contact, if necessary.

    Now we're in damage control mode, and quickly building berms seems like a logical thing to do, given the situation. The president has been acting on theoretical information, and now it's obvious that there is no answer to this catastrophe and it's time to experiment–and fast.

    June 6, 2010 at 2:15 am |
  8. ronvan

    While I agree that these berms are probably the quickest way to TRY and protect these area's there are some things to think about. One is that they are not permanent. So, knowing that this oil is not going away anytime soon, clean up will more than likely take years, how many times are you prepared to rebuild them? And what happens when BP declares bankruptancy? Don't get me wrong, I do not care if BP goes down the toilet. If they do it will send a message to all the other oil companies that taking short cuts & pure greed is not the way to do business. BUT, again we are caught in the middle. Spend $$$ on saving the wetlands -animals, or making sure that the people that are going to be out of business have $$$ to survive. And WHERE are all Americans? WE need to help our fellow Americans! WE are always sending $$$ to other countries. NOW is the time for us to support our OWN country.

    June 5, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  9. Bettina

    Another bit of interesting information...
    If sand berms are not expected to help then my question is this "why are the sand dunes on Okaloosa Island unprotected but the military site/ trailor at the end of them have had a sand berm up for days?" I will submit pics to protected military site/ unprotected dunes asap! This should raise questions as to why if it is not expected to help does this military site have them in place??
    Just a thought....

    June 4, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  10. John Rigney

    Candy Crowley, hard to believe, actualy had it right this morning. People are not looking for emotion form their leader, but we would like to see a sense of urgency. So far all we have got from the administration is "we are in charge, but BP is the experts" and "we will make sure they pay". Now they sent us a lawyer, Eric Holden, to help. Unless he is out there laying or picking up boom, he is useless right now. Mr. President act like a leader and get things moving. This is not the first oil spill ever; get all the experts from arround the world, not just the ones that work for BP.

    Should we be building berms? HELL YES! We should be trying everything we can think of to stop the oil from getting to the coast, booms, hay, dawn, giant shop-vacs, etc. Do you get it? Once the oil is in the marsh, game's over . If any of these methods can stop one barrel of oil from hitting my coast, let's try it. It can't possibly do any more damage.

    June 4, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  11. francnnam

    For more information on how you can help the Gulf Coast, please visit for organizations aiding in the clean up and rescue.

    June 4, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  12. SUE

    @ christie buziak: The only people that the U.S will allow here in the states are the illegal immigrants. See, that is because when we go to help foreign countries, we immediately start to build Army bases, Navy bases, infrastructure to allow our planes, trains, jets, ships, etc, to land and travel across the needy country, etc. We know that's how we do it... so we don't let anyone in because they might have learned lessons from us...
    The other reason is that the rest of the world is probably angry at us.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  13. Bettina

    FYI... Seize BP is a good site for protest information.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  14. Diana Davis

    Wake up America, we are all in a small way responsible, don’t you feel it when filling up your gas tank. We are just starting to entertain the idea of electric cars, which at this point are so expensive most of us can not afford them. We are falling behind in time in transportation, and with this major disaster. We have ruined the livelihood of this generation, and probably more.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  15. Bettina

    There are protests now happening all over the US.. I think one statement that should be made clear is the people aren't seeking anything other than a "solution" right now! Emotion, science and politics aside; we need to unite and clean up our mess( "Our" being anyone oil dependant). Investigations and finger pointing who should foot the bill should not even be a concern at this point. The issues of $$ doesn't seem to be an issue when we spend it on other countries disaster relief; so why is it such an issue in our own country??? Should we not help our own without questioning the $$??

    June 4, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  16. mark

    This would have never happend if all the environmental activists never pushed these oil rigs so far out that they have to drill in 5000 ft deep in the water to extract oil instead of drilling 200 to 500 ft for oil if this happend in swallow waters it would have been contained already.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  17. SUE

    Unless (and I think this is the situation) BP is planning to use that well at a later date, why can't they take one of the pilings like we use, and build, to support our overpasses and bridges, and drop that into that 21" diameter pipe? Shove 20 down there if that is what it takes and then cement it over – forever.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  18. Joan

    BP should have "evaluated all the options in a systematic way" long before they attempted to drill a well 5,000 feet down. It was their responsibility to do so. I'm sure they're very uncomfortable at how "emotional" Americans are about the catastrophe they've made.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  19. Chloe

    "The oil spill is hurting the animals and I don't think it's ok. You should work like one of your toys were broken and you need to fix it." Chloe S. age 5

    June 4, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  20. Joan

    D Bass, I loved your comment. And it would be good to see us all pull together, BP, government, universities, people of the gulf coast (who may know these waters better than anyone) and find that necessity is the mother of invention. Whatever we do, we have no time to lose.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  21. Patti Stanley

    This has to be done. I am not a louisiana citizen, but I am an american citizen and this is egregious beyond a shadow of doubt. The berms and any other plausible solutions should be attempted. I am not a genius but even I have some great ideas I would attempt if I had the money these corporations have.
    And, as for this media whirlwind, "emotions vs. non-emotions" showing in our leaders, just let people be who they are, if the cry, so be it, if they are too calm for our liking, then we need to just back off, still waters run deep! We have got to stop attacking each other and use the resources and energy to find a solution to the problem, period!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  22. Edward Gallardo

    Dear CNN/AM:

    You ask whether politicians should show anger or be level headed regarding the horrendous disaster in the Guld region. Why do the two have to be exclusive? Eleven Americans died! Seeing the pelicans covered in oil, the dead sea turtles, a dead shak, a dead eel, and who knows how many others will die.

    What's truly infuriating is when this began there was a story about how Brazil, Norway and other countries require the drills to have some device which costs $500,000 which would have prevented this from happening to begin with. In the U.S. our congressional overseers allowed B.P.and others I'm sure, to drill without this device. I can't help wondering how much money went into their campaigns and pockets to allow this to happen.

    BP like many other companies, does what it can to improve its bottom line. Allowing them to get away with this is the real crime.

    It breaks my heart to see the Gulf Coast and Wetlands so destroyed. It cost 11 lives, but how many other people's lives will be destroyed, losing everything, begining with their way of life. Our congress and President should be ashamed, but as we've seen, there has been no shame in Washington D.C. since the 2000 election. Another example of this – with our men in women dying overseas in two wars, our president goes on vacation instead of paying respect to those who died for this country buried in Arlington.

    Those who profitted by allowing the drilling to happen without the safety device should be tried for profiteering and murder.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  23. michael

    ONE MORE THING,WHOEVER approved this deep water rig without knowing how to respond to this happening should also be brought up on charges along with all the regulators who had all the porn on their desktops,seems like this went on with the banking regulators also?What the heck do we pay these people for?BROKEN GOVERMENT,YOU GOT IT!TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE!I dont trust anybody with a R or a D after their name!Like the justice system,the whole system is FOULED!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  24. a

    First let me say cnn's coverage of gulf is awesome, thank you for staying with us and getting this catastrophe out there. But really!?!? Your criticizing an effort to help. Did you see pics of gulf? Yes our la politicians are emotional this is our home the very thing we love. Instead of criticizing get one of those scientists you have talked to, to give some ideas and get them going. Its hurricane season something has to get done, if we get a hurricane anywhere along gulf the oil is going to go everywhere. Please stop criticizing efforts to help at least something is being done if bp can try new ideas and fail why cant we?? Your not helping situation by bad mouthing efforts. Again at least something besides boom and skimming is being done, and even those things dont work all the time.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:25 am |
  25. Sandy Davis

    Sand berms might not be the ideal solution but something has to be done to help deflect the oil coming ashore. We face at least another 90 days of oil spewing into the gulf even if the current cap effort is successful. Everyone – from oil execs to scientists – have said the cap will only eliminate about 80% of the current flow. That means we will continue to have oil coming ashore until well past August. The pictures we have seen of dead and/or dying wildlife is heartbreaking but can't begin to show the magnitude of the death rate. Our oyster beds, our shrimp and fish loses are much harder to depict – but will be measured by the economic impact they will have on so many who rely on these resources. And make no mistake – this disaster will be felt by everyone in the United States. Higher taxes for oil companies, boycotts of BP products and/or reducing or eliminating tax breaks for oil companies will be paid for by the American public in higher prices at the pump. Neither the oil companies nor our state or national governments are going to foot this bill. WE ARE. We need to use this situation as a stepping stone to demanding more accountability in our own governments' (state as well as national) responsibility in the areas of oversight, regulation and development of alternative energy,

    June 4, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  26. Joan

    I agree with A. Cooper's comment on this blog. Carol, this is a national crisis, and the last thing we need are flip comments. "Emotion vs. Science" is a waste of a topic. Who cares if Pres. Obama gets angry or doesn't get angry. He's right, his job is to do all he can to fix this thing. That's what people will remember.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  27. searay

    It seems to me that CNN has been bought – Numerous BP ads on TV and website & Numerous stories about the "emotional politicians" who are the burr in BPs saddle – How did Kyra get exclusive access? CNN has been bought – what a shame

    June 4, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  28. Willie

    America is supposed to be a Christian nation, however, they don't seem to understand what it means to be a Christian. As a Christian, we are supposed to follow Christ's example. 1Peter 2:21 says that Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps. How many times did Christ get angry lose his temper, and retaliate? God is slow to anger, he merciful, and gracious. Psalms 103:8. Proverbs 22:24 says "Do not have companionship with anyone given to anger, and with a man having fits of rage you must not enter in." This is advice from the creator of mankind. Suppose hew was given to fits of anger, Armageddon would have been long gone and those howlers for anger would not be here.

    We need to learn from the Iraq war. American were angry over 911, which a horrible despicable attack on Americans. However, our leader had other things in mind when he invaged Iraq, we angry Americans stood behind him, we did not count the cost of the war, we did not consider the millions of innocent lives that would be lost, we did not consider, the soldiers who would lose their lives, we wanted revenge. Anger seldom leads to a peaeable solution.

    Anger and impatient will lead to American's downfall; and don't think it can't happpen. Remember Rome, Greece, and all other empires before they fell.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  29. Charlie

    The berms are a month too late. That should be the basis for a probe into the poor response on the part of Obama and the Federal Government.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  30. Larry

    I am not sure what Jindal wants to accomplish with the berms. What experts advised him? What can a state do on its own beside complain? I want to see some action coming from the locals. I can advise them as to what they can do for themselves.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  31. searay

    Emotion vs Science – well, we need both. There are enough disconnected **** out there, "I want my life back" Tony Hayward – Those of us directly affected by this want someone who is willing to do something NOW – There is a trade off for every 'solution'. We need more emotion to motivate Tony Hayward & Carol Costello to care about this clean up – Emotion vs Science we got both down here and we need more pictures of the devastation NOT whiners asking if we got it just right. Here's a question for you, "Did that drowning man just cuss me out right before he went under?" Yes Carol, he did!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:16 am |
  32. Judi Kirsch

    Ongoing multiple lines of defense will assist in mitigating the effect of the damage. However, in many cases, the efforts got started too late when it comes to the marshland and barrier islands. Its not unchecked emotion that I want to see from the President; I want him to personally go to these areas and in real time point to the wildlife devestation and say emphatically, "This destruction is unacceptable!" I want to know that he has personally witnessed the deep concern voiced by the people. I want him to be shaken from within at what our country suffers at the hands of disasters both natural and man-made. This president is asking much from the people of this country and in return, we will continue to ask much of him. Thank you for staying home and cancelling your trip abroad.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  33. Joan

    I don't know how the question came down to "emotion vs. science" in your mind. More accurate is "do something vs. do nothing" or "anger vs. arrogance."
    Regarding the berms, personally, I would prefer if we had six months or a year's time to have scientific studies done to figure out the best thing to do to protect the marsh, but there's no time. Like Billy Nungesser said, "if someone else has a better idea, let's hear it." If BP wants to criticize the idea of using berms, or if you do, please, please offer a better idea but the idea needs to come NOW, or better, it should have come a month ago.
    BP was responsible for having scientific studies done and a plan in place in case something like this happened. And now they're arrogantly criticizing the idea of berms.
    I would like to see how "emotional" Tony Hayward would be if thousands of barrels of oil were being dumped in his home town.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:14 am |
  34. eagle

    Is building the barrier sand (pumping sand) islands better or worse for the habitat and wildlife than oil drenching what already exists? BP will pay for all of this and I have absolutely nothing against them AT ALL. Unlike our government, at least they're (BP) taking the lead in responsibility. The real people responsible for this are either dead or are hiding. It will all come out in the wash ten or twenty years from now. I'll continue to buy gasoline for my car from a BP station and will continue to support our greatest ally, Britain.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:14 am |
  35. Bettina

    This is going to impact us as people on so many levels for decades to come.. How could you not get emotional?? Endangered wildlife may never recover.. Our beautiful beaches will soon be toxic.. People whose livelihoods depend on the gulf will be displaced... Unemployment and firclosures in the affected areas is/ will continue to skyrocket..The more appropriate question is "how could you not be emotional?"

    June 4, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  36. Phillip Reynolds

    I don't mind if politicians are cool headed or full of emotion. I just want them to be genuine.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  37. Charlie

    HMMMM....... Seem to remember from my history books that Neville Chamberlain maintained a cool collected composure in in his dealings with Adolf Hitler prior to WWII? I believe the governors of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi better start getting mad.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  38. Lynne M Johnson

    Yes, use them. When there is a forest fire, they get ahead of the fire and do a back burn. This is the same idea. Personally I feel we should have been using any and everything at our disposal. Last week we heard of several independent companies that had new ideas and they all sounded as if they could help. We should be using each of them in a different area of the spill to see just how effective they are. It would be a free trial run and we would learn just how effective each method is and which are good for certain situations and which ones are good for others.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  39. michael

    Bobby is going to run in 2012,Janet and Thad need to be fired ASAP!After they misslead the whole of the country on behalf of OIL,americans should be emotional,not politicians who are looking for the spotlight to futher their quest for power!This shows that no matter whos in charge republicans or democrats,when it comes down to RESPONSE neither have a CLUE! Bobby still bows to oil ,BET IT!LIKE THE REST OF THEM!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  40. Aaron Billet

    Sand berms are a potential "quick fix", however, I have been working on a potential holistic long-term approach to rebuild the country's economic base while also cleaning up the coast line. I propose not only doing things such as the sand berm approach, but also to use the "tar balls", oily sand and water in combination with aggregate to create paving asphalt for road infrastructure building nationwide as a long-term remedy as well. Could you please contact me at the email provided so I may explain my full concept to you and your viewers on-air, thank you.
    Aaron M. Billet

    June 4, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  41. Val

    Watching politicians display emotion does not reassure me, I can't understand why anyone wants that. Samantha & Barbara speak the voice of reason.

    Samantha Marks: Throughout any crisis, its important to " keep cool" and evaluate all the options in a systematic way that considers all of the variables, which is what scientists do.

    Barbara: The bottom line is thinking, problem solving and science is not sexy.

    The need for and impact of berms needs to be realistically assessed.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  42. Shane C.

    On Emotion: Emotion from politicians is so important to the public because, unfortunately, the public no longer has the capacity to truly understand words and evaluate real actions. It is very upsetting to see that, at a time like this, our nation is trying to decide whether or not its happy with the President's FEELINGS! Get real America, and God bless!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  43. searay

    Emotion vs Science – well, we need both. There are enough disconnected asswipes out there, "I want my life back" Tony Hayward – Those of us directly affected by this want someone who is willing to do something NOW – There is a trade off for every 'solution'. We need more emotion to motivate Tony Hayward & Carol Costello to care about this clean up – Emotion vs Science we got both down here and we need more pictures of the devastation NOT whiners asking if we got it just right. Here's a question for you, "Did that drowning man just cuss me out right before he went under?" Yes Carol, he did!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  44. Marc

    Your question about wanting a more emotional response from the president is a good one – and about time someone asked it.
    How many of your own reporters (James Carville...) have said something like " I know he can't put on SCUBA gear and swim down there, but..." or "I know he's not superman, he can't just fly down there and clamp it off, but..." and then proceed to say that he really needs to LOOK like he's doing something.
    THE MAIN THING I like about Obama is that he doesn't go off like some 17 year old who's date dumped him at the prom and react in a way that only makes things worse (read: Iraq.)
    The US has been so conditioned by Reagan's America – drama = good reaction – that we've begun to prefer a good show over a measured, intelligent response. (Remember Bush standing in front of that theatrical backdrop of the factory full of product?)
    An outraged, fuming President Obama would be a great political photo opp, but wouldn't do anything to get the job done.
    I feel better that he's not pre-occupied with trying to stage something to make himself LOOK better, but is intelligently working to get the problem solved.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  45. jack

    Praying this works. Let's stop drilling and start DISTILLING!! We can run these cars on alcohol.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  46. David

    These televised moments of outrage and tears and the rhetrocial flourishes that are increasing in incidence among politicians serve a craven political purpose.

    I don't need my elected representatives to demonstrate their sympathies or anger or rage or half-baked solutions simply to appear active and involved. i need them to be calm, cool, and level-headed and stick to the tasks at hand, such as shoring up funding for the local projects that are to come for years and years to clean this up, or to improve regulation of these wells' operations and safety inspections, or to engage local volunteer efforts at rescuing and relocating the wildlife in harm's way.

    If a constituent's soul is only eased or nourished by their elected officials' demonstrations of feeling then we've really entered some kind of gross nanny phase in our country's cultural evolution. I do expect these elected and corporate officials, however, to _have_ enough empathy not to declare that they want to get their lives back or need a break from this or any crisis.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  47. Leila D'Aquin

    1. A good plan executed quickly is better than a great plan that comes too late. The sand barriers are needed. No one has offered an alternative, much less a better idea.

    2. I almost vomited when this story was followed by BP's repulsive PR ad. CNN should not accept these ads or any of BP's $50 million advertising money. That foreign company has committed homicide and environmental terrorism by its callous greed and disregard for safety. This is a holocaust. Would CNN run PR ads for Al Queida? Hitler? Saddam Hussein? Refuse the ads. I don't want to hear Tony Heyward's disingenuous platitudes. Tell him to send that $50 million to the people of the Gulf Coast instead.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  48. Q Mott

    I agree with Samantha totally, while everyone is just doing nothing more than fanning the flames by pressuring Pres. Obama to come out of his logical mind and into his emotional mind, this crisis has shown more of what he is made of than anything that he has throughout his presidency. As commander-in-chief, I want someone at the helm who is able to see the situation and think through it with a clear mind, versus someone who flies off at the handle making rash decisions based on an emotional state.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:08 am |
    • mark

      OMG what is wrong with u people obviously u people can't see real passion jindal knows they could have been building those sand burms last week not starting today while Obama hosted mens woman's basketball teams at the white going on vacations playing golf of course Obama doesn't show enough emotions his staff is dragging him down to the marshes for photo oops today. The problem is he's never had any executive experience b4 being a senator and president I cam see hr doesn't know what to do. Put someone else in charge who knows how to get things done

      June 4, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  49. jeff

    yes emotion is needed, this is our lands and wildlife, it is crazy that there was nothing in place to prevent this. someone had to think at least once in our past 'what if a oil plat form goes up' ( hasnt someone thought that ). There are five of us unemployed workers waiting to see if we can get a call back to go to the gulf to help clean up. Do not want unemployment insurance any longer I want a job.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  50. Denise

    You ask if "emotion is necessary? " Oh heavens to Betsey–Of course it is–We have been sold a bill of goods based on certain emotions being stimulated. it's what "sells" products, ideas and causes–it's the way the American people have been trained. Emotion is how we respond to suggestion–rationality has little to do with it. We've been trained to be driven by emotions not the attributes which is unfortunate but true. Proves the training has worked that we don't want to see our politicians level headed and cool. Ooops..looks like it's reversed it's attack on the Politicians. Oh Well.

    In the Highest Vibration of Love

    June 4, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  51. michael erickson

    Good Morning...Do you remember the saying "I'm Mad Too Eddy" well lets get the screen printers busy (hey more jobs) with T-Shirts in BP colors that say:
    "We're MAD too BP"
    Can you imagine 100's of thousands of people wearing the shirts from accross America?

    June 4, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  52. Alex B

    I live in MS and Bobby Jindal is emotional and rightfully so. It would nice to have a President that cares about our gulf coast or even seemed half as upset as Gov. Jindal. I trust the local government much more than our federal government, so what if some birds eggs do not hatch? They will no longer have a habitat if the oil reaches the marshes. They will die and turn to mud and wash away. BP should be required to rebuild our wetlands after what they have done and paying to build these sand berms is the first step this company has made in the right direction.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  53. Al Tucker

    Yes! Build berms. It's unacceptable to do nothing and just "study" in a CRISIS. If the berms *may* not work, there's a chance they will as well. But like the bombastic Billy Nungresser keeps saying, "If they've got a better idea, let's hear it!"

    Studies must continue to though! Clearly more needs to be done on actual cleanup and not just barriers. This effort should not derail them. Whatever happened to that machine Kevin Coster has that can actually separate the oil from the water and shoot cleaned water back out?

    June 4, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  54. DBass

    Carol Costello misreported this situation.

    The concept of Sand Berms is not an Emotional Decision...but rather one of NECESSITY.

    When the British sent Private Sector Ferries, Motor Yachts and Sailing Vessals to Dunkirk to rescue the British Expeditionary Force from France in 1940....they did so out of NECESSITY.

    This Oil Spill is OUR Dunkirk Moment and that is why, even though I voted for President Obama, I cannot understand why we lost 3 weeks TALKING about berms instead of building them.

    Its simple Carol...if the oil hits the marshes its GAME OVER for generations (possibly) to come.

    Whereas if some rookeries are upset by the building of berms then that is collateral damage.

    Gotta stop the bleeding first. This is simple Triage decision making....and frankly....I'm upset that you have used your broadcast position to paint this argument as Science versus Emotion.

    Au contrare..its Science versus Necessity.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  55. Rich Hale

    Yes we demand the politicians we elect to have emotion. I am one of countless many burning under the skin about this! Let them do anything possible to contain this spill at any cost. Forget about waiting and blaming BP… this is our country and our shores!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  56. A. Cooper-TX

    Carol Costello has no stake in this crisis. Her flip attitude just made me sick. This is a very emotional time for all of us watching our beautiful gulf Ruined. Carol, go back to where you came from and take your silly comments with you.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  57. Joan Lio

    Sand berms are necessary in order to preserve the grasslands of southern Louisianna. We along the gulf coast are desperate!!! How can anyone not help but be emotional? We depend on the Gulf for our food, our way of life, our recreation, and our peace of mind. Does the rest of the country care?

    June 4, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  58. james givens

    Cooler head always prevail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    What's the point of getting upset and thinking irrational!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  59. christie buziak

    My husband and I were watching an oil covered pelican on the news and a thought occurred to me. "Where are our international friends?" Where is the British Navy? After all BP is BRITISH Petroleum. Where are the French? Where are the countless other countries we have given humanitarian as well as alliances to all these years? Why do we have a U.N. here and yet no one reaches out in OUR time of need? I have not heard one statement of condolence from any other country. If we had some help, we could make a real impact on this clean-up quickly. What's wrong with everybody? Instead of spending time pointing fingers, make some calls and get this organized!!!!!!!!
    Respectfully in CT

    June 4, 2010 at 7:59 am |
  60. jim

    Thank you CNN for having Carol Costello. There is no other reporter from any news outlet who has the chops to get out with the working people and report on real life of real folk.

    June 4, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  61. art


    La. has some tough choices to make if this well has indeed been capped, and the mess cleaned up. Oil rigs in one of the world's most fertile fishing holes? You folks have to get on the bandwagon for clean energy initiatives.

    And, hey! Port Arthur, Tx! Your little corner of the world smells to the high heavens! Think wind farms, and solar!

    Thank you

    June 4, 2010 at 7:45 am |
  62. recy

    Great they have a cap on the well. Let's pray it works. Meanwhile, we could be doing so much more to clean up the oil on the surface,coming into our wetlands.For years people have used ordinary hay to clean up oil in the waters around here.It floats, oil clings to it, and if it makes it to the beaches.....pick it up like we do seaweed. Get it out there! Then let the people who are out of work because of this go out with their boats and nets to scoop it up.Come on America!We are wasting time, and now it's hurricane season!!!

    June 4, 2010 at 7:23 am |
  63. Barbara

    We have become a nation that demands visual effects. Watching American Idol, Survivor and the rest of the emotional brain draining ilk, we are constantly exposed to has dulled our thought processes and heightened our desire for a Jessie Ventura or Hulk Hogan to rescue us. If Obama stomps his foot and threaten to rip off the head of the BP CEO, will that satisfy the masses wanting "emotion"? The bottom line is thinking, problem solving and science is not sexy. Nothing to see there, move along folks, just nerds and geeks trying to really solve this. If we all yell at the oil loud enough, maybe we can keep it off shore.

    June 4, 2010 at 7:04 am |
  64. art


    Sand! Absorbent cat litter!
    It works in my garage when I dribble some oil.

    Let's put some truckers back to work delivering this stuff!! Put it on BP's tab!

    June 4, 2010 at 6:59 am |
  65. Ken

    Berms? On one hand, building the berms is an easy way to deflect the angst – and the political momentum – of the politicians who are crying "do something. Do anything. Don't bother to ask if it will work. Show us that you are an action figure." On the other hand, it's unlikely that the berms will survive a true storm, let alone a gale or a tropical storm. I started my professional career as a civil engineer/economist responsible for the design of inlets and beaches from (roughly) New York City to Mid-North Carolina. Constructing a berm with staying power is much more complicated than building sand castles along the beach. A beach berm without stabilizing components is basically a sand castle. After a major northeaster trashed the New Jersey coast we used car bodies from junk yards, thousands of used Christmas trees carried to the barrier islands by people who loved them, and massive protected dune grass plantings to create a stable base that wouldn't be blown away in the wind or washed away by a storm surf. Relatively minor wave action can wash away simple berms as easily as a wave makes a sand castle disappear. I have seen a storm with a scouring motion – waves that come at the beach almost sidewise rather than straight on – create an 8 foot cliff on a new beach overnight – a real surprise for those of use who like to walk the beach early in the morning when newly created cliffs are virtually invisible. Closing off inlets and coves might help in the short term – but check out the battles on Nantucket, where locals who once asked for protecive sand barriers to minimize damages in their local finger bays were sneaking out at night with bulldozers to open the barriers and flush out their ponds. I have been through a number of public meetings with unhappy locals demanding berm protection whether or not they work. I can imagine the Corps of Engineers and their experts gringing a bit,

    June 4, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  66. J.T.Oliver

    Louisiana knows the coast line better than anyone.
    People who invent a new process "try" the idea out to find out what works! ex. T. Edison and the light bulb.
    In times past the "government plan" would have been to contact Howard Hughes and ask him to invent something. He would have started on a fleet of barges equiped to recover surface oil near the shore and from the sub-surface plume immediatley.
    I guess the likes of a Mr. Hughes does not exist today. Too bad for us.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  67. Samantha Marks

    Throughout any crisis, its important to" keep cool" and evaluate all the options in a systematic way that considers all of the variables, which is what scientists do. Although people want Obama to show more emotion, anger invevitably leads to impulsive decisions which may make the situation worse.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:49 am |
  68. scott

    At what point do we consider emloying natures way of preserving / maintaining wetlands in the Mississippi Delta – letting it flood like it did for thousands of years before it was artificially stopped by man. Before this spill, we were losing square miles of wetlands per day (source-NOVA "Killer Hurricane"). Berms are one solution, but it's good to know we could let the mighty mississip blast this oil out of its delta as well as deposit tons of new silt for future wetlands.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  69. Derek & Maria Chandler

    YES, sand berms are the ONLY defense right now. They CANNOT afford to wait for testing as this is an URGENT EMERGENCY.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:43 am |