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No Oil Flowing into Gulf Tonight; A Lasting Education; Louisiana's Homeless Pets

Aired July 15, 2010 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight, but no one down here is celebrating just yet.

Take a look. What you see is the new capping stack on top of BP's broken well. What you don't see, not anymore, is that huge cloud of oil leaking in the Gulf. So it's remarkable when you see that. Here is the before and the after.

The stoppage came this afternoon at 3:25 Eastern Time. That's when engineers finished closing the final valve on top of the stack, 87 days into this disaster. See the before and the after.

Now it's a question of seeing if the cap, 13,000 feet of underground pipe, the well bore itself, even the sea floor around it, can stand up to all that pressure. Listen.


DOUG SUTTLES, COO, BP: I have to stress, we have to manage our expectation because depending on what the results are could depend on what happens next.


COOPER: That's Doug Suttles to see what's actually happening. They are watching the pressure on the pipe and doing seismic testing on the seafloor, literally shaking the earth and measuring the sound waves that bounce back to map out the rock underneath, checking for cracks in and around the well hole.

Now depending on what they learn this picture could change. If they don't leave the well completely shut in, they could hook up a pair of tankers and pump oil up to them. And if they can't siphon off enough of it, they could end up venting some of it into the water again.

And remember, there's now 87 days worth of oil still in the water and all over the Gulf Coast, which is why James Carville who you'll hear from in a moment borrowed a line from Winston Churchill said -- saying this isn't the end. It isn't even the beginning of the end; it is the end of the beginning.

Here to explain how it went today and how it's going tonight and may go in the coming days, Chad Myers. Chad, what's going on? CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: They have all of the valves shut. That is the big good news. All of the valves, all of the oil is stopped inside the oil blowout preventer and the new capping stack that they put on top. So all of the oil that we saw for so many days coming either around the old cap or out from the bottom or wherever, that's now all done.

Will it be done forever? No. Will they probably hook those -- the vessels back up, up to the top and suck the oil out again? Yes. But this is the first step to say, it's ok, the well is in good shape. The bore is in good shape, the casing is in good shape, the old blowout preventer is still doing ok.

We took away the old cap, because the oil just went around that old cap. It never really worked. It took away this old -- we'll call it a nipple, if you want. It's the old top of the bottom of the riser, the top of the old blowout preventer. It was there, it was bent, it wasn't a good seal.

So they came down and took the bolt out and took it away. Then they brought in a new one. They brought in a new top, the new top was clean and solid and had a nice ring on the top of it and that ring was able to be -- to be clamped to this new capping stack that has all the valves in it.

They bolted it to here, they bolted it to here and all of a sudden this very nice, clean, well-made up above piece of aluminum and metal and iron down to another piece of 150,000-pound stack dropped on top of this, bolted together and sealed together, all of a sudden now we have the oil coming out the top of this.

Well, yesterday, and of course today, they started closing the valves, cranking them ever so slowly. And within a couple of hours all of the oil stopped coming out.

The pressures were rising and that was what they wanted Anderson, they wanted the pressures to stay high so that when the oil finally stopped coming out of the top, there it is, it's still coming out -- when it finally stopped coming out, we knew the pressure stayed 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 PSI, pounds per square inch, more pressure than you and I could ever withstand, if that pressure stayed high, there was no oil leaking anywhere. And that's what they wanted to see and that's what we have right now.

This is perfect -- a perfect scenario to let this be this way if there's a hurricane is coming. I believe they are still going to take this just for precaution, hook all the hoses back up again and suck all of the oil into the ships up above and not allow any oil to go into the water, period.

This will now be an operating oil drill pipe mechanism for a while. We'll see and then eventually they are going to drill down on the bottom, they'll drill all the way down in a couple more weeks probably and they kill it with the cement -- Anderson.

COOPER: So just so I'm clear, Chad, are they siphoning any oil to the surface right now?

MYERS: No, absolutely not. It is completely -- this well is shut down. And the pressures, we don't think, are leaking anywhere. The pressures are not going down. They are staying where they are, staying where they want them to be.

If something cracks -- heaven forbid, right -- if something cracks down in the casing, if something cracks in the blowout preventer, we would see oil in the water. And we don't. It's clear.

COOPER: Again, we should caution the information we have often is a little old because BP doesn't put out real time information.

MYERS: Correct.

COOPER: We had this problem last night on the program. So that's why Chad is saying we think because, frankly, until BP narrate this is stuff in real time, which we've been suggesting they do now for more than two months and they said they were going to do it about two weeks ago which they still haven't done, we don't know what's happening in real time.

But this is the latest information that anybody has. Chad, thanks.

We're going to check in with Chad a little bit later to find out about the oil that is still out there in the water, where it is and what we know about where it may be going.

But I want to bring in three people who have been with us here all along to try to understand this from the start: Plaquemines Parish President, Billy Nungesser, Congressman Ed Markey, a Democrat of Massachusetts and Rice University Presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley.

Billy I want to start with you. When did you hear about this capping? And I mean it's got to be an incredibly emotional moment.

BILLY NUNGESSER, PRESIDENT, PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LOUISIANA: We were at a meeting about the claims in Port Sulphur. It had just ended and I grabbed the mike and told the people and there was a loud cheer and applause and you could see it on the faces of the fishermen. The feeling of finally there's light at the end of the tunnel.

COOPER: Do you -- and you do feel that there's a light at the end of the tunnel?

NUNGESSER: Absolutely, if they keep -- You know every day we bring in 50 to 100 -- 5,500 gallon drums of oil. And I've come out here and watched it on TV and in ten seconds more oil has leaked out and we picked up all day.

How do I go out tomorrow and tell these guys we're making a difference?

Well, tomorrow we will be making a difference. Every day from here on out that it stays sealed off, there will be less oil in our marshlands, less oil to kill the birds, less oil to ruin our way of life.

So hopefully -- it's going to be a long cleanup. There's a lot of oil out there. But every day now going forward there will be a little bit less oil to deal with.

COOPER: Congressman Markey, what is your greatest concern right now?

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, my greatest concern is that -- this is very early in the process. We're hopeful. But we're acting with an abundance of caution because this pipe has been under an enormous amount of stress over the 87-day period.

It's almost like a bone marrow transplant right now. We're in the first few hours. We hope that the operation is a success but there is now a tremendous amount of pressure on this pipe that it has not been subjected to thus far.

We hope that the pipe can hold. It's thousands of feet long. We hope that no leaks spring as a result of all of this new pressure inside of that pipe. If that's the case, then today is a great day.

But I think that we should just give it a couple more days. We are doing something right now that has never been done before. We really don't know how fragile the pipe is. We're not sure completely of what the integrity of this pipe is.

So I just think that we should still operate under the assumption that we're early in the process. We hope it is successful. But right now we just can't be completely sure.

COOPER: Doug Brinkley, I want to put back up the picture, the live picture from underwater. Because it is startling, I think that's an older picture, I want to -- here's the live picture. I mean, it's startling, Doug, to not see oil coming out of there. What is your greatest concern right now?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, RICE UNIVERSITY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think we have to keep calling it day 87, day 88, day 89, until those relief wells are dug. This is not an end game here today. But I can tell you that I think the whole country is feeling a great sense of relief.

I mean, part of the problem has been a sense of powerlessness. It's been like a national bleeding. We wake up every day with that gusher on our TV screen and we don't know what to do. Was there ever going to be a solution? What if the relief wells didn't work? Was this going to be oil spilling into the fall and the Christmas season?

There was a lot of uncertainty and BP had misled people so many times that I think even that this great, historic capping today, people are skeptical. But I think we have to keep the focus on the Gulf south. That the wild life down there is being devastated, we still don't know the damage the dispersants have done. And we have -- you know just -- endless amounts of dispersants that were -- were dumped in the region. And we still haven't had BP properly compensate people. They haven't yet paid the right revenues enough and on time for the oil that's being collected in that spill.

So I think all of this is just -- it's a good day, it's the best of the 87 days but tomorrow is 88 and 89 until those relief wells are built.


We're going to have more with Doug Brinkley and Congressman Markey and Billy Nungesser in just a moment. We've got to take a quick break. The live chat is up and running at Let us know what you think about it. Tell us where you were when you heard the news.

Also ahead, he's been taking the heat for his handling of the spill; also a White House reaction tonight. Ed Henry has been working his sources, he takes us inside.

And later, all of those life-saving supplies for Haiti sitting on docks tangled up in customs red tape while -- while people are still in so much need; 1.6 million people homeless right now. We went demanding answers. Now, as you'll see it in a moment, we we're getting action on the ground in Haiti; some dramatic news from Port- au-Prince ahead tonight.


COOPER: Live pictures from what we've been formerly calling the leak cam. As you can see, there is nothing leaking now. So far the capping stack is holding, we presume so is everything deeper underground, otherwise engineers would have started venting oil to relieve the pressure even if BP is not releasing the information. We -- we would think we would start to see that.

Today's closing the valves putting an enormous strain on the pipes down below, but probably relieving some political pressure on the White House, which has taken a lot of fire over the last 80 or so days to -- for its handling of the crisis.

Ed Henry joins us now with the White House reaction. Ed, what are you hearing?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, earlier today Anderson, the President was giving a statement on the South Lawn of the White House, reacting to the fact that the Wall Street Reform Bill passed through the senate but I shouted him a question at the end about these developments in the Gulf.

And he told me that he sees this as a positive development. But as you noted, these tests are still ongoing. So the President said that he doesn't want to get ahead of that. He's planning to make a statement in the morning before he heads out on a weekend vacation to Maine with his family. I'm told by White House aides that -- that's because he's been briefed about this tonight. And he has been told by his senior aide that they are not certain that this is going to hold. They are not certain that 24, 48 hours from now we are going to know for sure that the oil is still not leaking.

So they want to be very careful. You noted the political damage. This President has taken a beating on this. I'm told that a couple of days ago when he met behind closed door at the White House with some Democratic senators, he said he felt -- in private he was saying -- he felt that he was gaining some momentum late March, early April after the health care reform bill was signed into law.

But then he said he was hit with these two G's, the Gulf oil spill and the Greek debt crisis. The Greek debt crisis has sort of stopped the momentum in the economic recovery and the Gulf oil spill has sort of stopped his political momentum. And so they desperately want to turn the corner on this.

But just a few moments ago before I came on, I talked again with the senior aide to the president, he said their latest briefings are that they still don't know if this is going to stay with -- with the oil not flowing. They want to be very careful not to get ahead of this -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ed, there are a lot of folks down here who had hoped that the President's family would actually vacation somewhere in the Gulf, kind of sending a signal that the Gulf is opened for business. New Orleans is open for business and a lot of these coastal communities and beaches are open.

Was there ever any thought instead of him going to Maine that he would do that?

HENRY: They have considered it. But I can tell you that, you know, they have gotten that question. Robert Gibbs did a couple of days ago at the White House briefing. You know, the First Lady was down in the region where you are. She was in Florida actually on the Gulf Coast a couple of days ago and was saying people should vacation down there.

So when my colleagues asked Robert Gibbs, why doesn't the First Family go there? The suggestion was they've already made their plans so they are going to go ahead and go to Maine. They may have other vacation plans in August.

But certainly since they are promoting the Gulf Coast for others, they have gotten that question and a little bit of heat on why they are not going to the Gulf Coast themselves -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Ed Henry, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Back now with our panel: Billy Nungesser, Congressman Ed Markey and Doug Brinkley.

Billy, how concerned are you that people now around the country and maybe even around the world are going to see these pictures and say hey, look, no Gulf -- no oil is leaking and think this thing is over?

NUNGESSER: Well, we're concerned about that. We're concerned about assets being pulled back saying, well, look, it's stopped. It's not going to come ashore and then bam we get a storm and we're hit with it. We need to ramp up, we need to keep on the frontline, and keep the people out there, keep building the berms, they are working.

And we're going to see this all come ashore, I believe, for a year or two. We might get long breaks in between but we know there's a lot of oil out there on the surface and below the surface and depending on the currents and when that storm hits it right and pushes it into the marshlands, it's going to come and we've better be ready for it.

COOPER: Congressman Markey on -- I think it was June 23rd you wrote a letter to BP, one of the many letters that you written to BP, that they haven't really responded to. This one you were asking it for detailed information about the well bore, about the -- what they knew about the sea floor, about the status of it.

That information is obviously crucially important now. Have they -- and yesterday you were saying, look, they haven't responded. Have they responded at all over the last 24 hours?

MARKEY: They have not responded. And, again, I wrote back there on June 23rd so that we could publicly disclose what the integrity of the well bore is. We could publicly disclose what the integrity of the geology around the well bore so that we could better understand --

COOPER: And explain why that's so important.

MARKEY: Well, it's important because this is a lot like somebody out in the backyard, putting their hand on top of the hose as the water is coming out. It's going to now put a lot of pressure on the rest of the hose.

And what we need to know is, how strong is the pipe? Can it withstand that extra pressure as the oil is now backed up? Can the soil, can the rock, can the sediment around the well withstand the additional pressure? And so all of this is key information, which is why I believe the federal government has been wise in ensuring that BP move much more slower than they had intended on doing.

BP really has wanted to shut down this well as quickly as possible, although their incompetence has made it impossible for them to achieve that goal. But recently they've wanted to move more quickly and the federal government led by Admiral Allen has forced them to slow down so that we don't take something and make the cure actually worse than the disease by having this pipe off the rock formation around this well actually now spring leaks and makes the problem even worse than it is now.

COOPER: Doug, the other good thing about this is that, I suppose it allows some elements of the Coast Guard and some elements of the federal response who were focusing on, you know, in great detail on what was happening underneath the water. They are still obviously are going to be focused on it because that story is not over until the well is actually killed by these relief wells but to allow some of those element I guess now, to -- to kind of refocus with greater intensity on the cleanup.

BRINKLEY: Well, exactly.

And I might add, just listening to Congressman Markey, I mean, he's been an incredible voice to all of this. I mean, they give Profiles in Courage award up at the Kennedy Library in Massachusetts, and his leadership in explaining things, I find it's been remarkable in the last few months.

COOPER: Well, we should point out -- we should point out Doug, that the pictures that we're seeing are frankly due to Congressman Markey and others on Capitol Hill because BP never wanted to release these images. They never put out these live video feeds.

And it was only after his insistence and others on Capitol Hill that -- and raising a stink about it basically that they released that 30 second video clip and then after they continued to raise a stink, finally released live feeds to members of Congress.

BRINKLEY: Well -- and that's exactly right. And I think that -- also Anderson, what you said, we have the Mississippi River Gulf National Wildlife Refuge. And we've got to really start looking now quickly on how to save the wetlands of Louisiana.

It's been an ongoing issue before this spill but the federal government has got to step up and protect America's wetlands because you just can't take that $20 billion and pay people for seasonal losses right now and the hospitality or fishing business. We've got to permanently save our great Mississippi River Delta.

But we couldn't really have that conversation. The government couldn't act enough while that oil was still gushing out. It was nonsensical. Now that we've got a tourniquet at least on this and let's hope it stays -- the relief wells get dug -- we've got to have a larger national dialogue about saving America's wetlands.

COOPER: Billy, we're going to have on shortly a scientist who doesn't believe that the berms are working. Just so we get your perspective, you believe that they are effective and that they are doing a great job?

NUNGESSER: Absolutely. You know the ones that say that they are going to wash away and they're not going to last, we're going to ask the federal government to allow us to arm them, to plant trees and vegetations so they don't wash away.

COOPER: And when you say arm them, arm them with actual rocks or --

NUNGESSER: Well, rocks and where the currents come through --


NUNGESSER: -- and their sandbags that allow the water through biodegradable. You see the sandbags and put them there until the growth can take, so the roots can get in so it doesn't wash away.

These arms that were out there, they were right below the surface of the water when we started. We are putting back what was there. And as you just heard, we need to restore the wetlands.

This is just a start. Everybody talks about fresh water diversion. If we have the barrier islands, the diversions we have now will allow that fresh water to do ten times greater, and make it further south, restore the wetlands quickly. This is the start of rebuilding coastal Louisiana.

COOPER: All right, Billy, I appreciate it. As always, Congressman Markey, thank you very much for being on our panel tonight and Doug Brinkley as well.

Just ahead tonight, we'll have more on the berm issue. We just heard from Billy Nungesser. We're going to hear from Governor Jindal who is putting a lot of faith in those berms and you'll talk -- we will talk to a marine scientist who's got serious doubts about them. I'm trying to show all sides trying to help you make up your minds about what the truth is.

Also tonight: some good news to tell you about, all the pets waiting for new homes down here, Randi Kaye is having update on that. If you got questions for her, especially about how you can help you can text to AC360 or 22360. Remember to include your name and where you're from and a reminder -- standard rates apply.

Also good news out of Haiti, a remarkable development actually we'll tell you about ahead.


COOPER: Updating the breaking news: the valves are shut, the cap is holding, the pipes below apparently standing up to the pressure. Testing should be under way into the weekend and the oil for now is not going into the Gulf. That's the latest information we have from BP. And from what we can tell just by looking at these live pictures.

I spoke about it earlier with Democratic strategist and passionate New Orleans resident James Carville.


COOPER: When you first saw the image of the well without oil coming out, what went through your mind?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's good. I mean, let's -- I mean, -- they are -- it's really good. But exactly 68 years ago in July of 1942 is the Battle of El Alamein (ph) and after that Churchill famously said, "This is the end of the beginning." And if you want to make a context we're in World War II and this is the Battle of El Alamein, we haven't had the Italian campaign yet or we haven't had the Battle of the Bulge or we haven't had the D-Day invasion, we haven't had any Stalingrad or anything else, this is good. It was good that we won, the allies won the El Alamein and thank God we did. But this in a historical context, this is just the end of the beginning. And that's it.

COOPER: James, we talked about this a little bit yesterday, but it worries you that now people are going to say, ok look, this thing is over. That -- that image of the oil coming out has stopped.


COOPER: And therefore problem has ended.

CARVILLE: And this is -- again, it worries me because this would be the equivalent of saying, well, we beat Rommel in North Africa. We can all go home now. It's kind of, we're done. We're done with Hitler. No, we have got a long, long way to go.

But it's good that we accomplished this. And there is a great fear that -- and this is the long haul. This is the cleanup. This is -- people have lost their jobs. This isn't sort of comeback and everything.

And as long as that thing was coughing up oil in the middle of the Gulf, it gave us something to sort of rally around. It gave everybody a visual. It gave a storyline.

I'm very fearful that the attention is going to drift away, and people will move on to other things and the people of my state and my region will be forgotten. And I think that's something that I -- I plan to be very vigilant about.


COOPER: For you, where is the battle now? What are the future battles, I mean beyond just whether or not this thing is going to hold, whether or not -- what happens underneath the water?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, and I think the thing with Ken Feinberg and that is very good, that people have to be made right.

People have lost an unbelievable amount of money.


COOPER: Ken Feinberg said this is going to ramp by -- in next month.

CARVILLE: By next month. And I think people trust him. And I think there's reason to.

There have been some good things happen. It's been capped, Ken Feinberg, the $20 billion, even as -- James Lee Witt being brought in by BP. I mean, there have been some good things happening.

But -- so we just have to continue that. But you have people that have to be reimbursed. The cleanup has to go. They have got to address the question of the moratorium here. And I don't think this thing can wait until November. The economy here is literally in shambles. We just got an announcement that Avondale Shipyard is moving 5,000 really good jobs out of here.

So there's a lot of things. But the short-term reimbursement, the long-term cleanup, these are things that are going to take a long time if our culture is to survive here. And it's not a given that it will.

COOPER: Do you worry that people are going to take the pressure off BP in terms of holding them accountable; in terms of watching them and sort of holding them --

CARVILLE: I do. And to be honest with you, if it weren't for you and a couple of other people, I'd be more scared. But I am very concerned and it's not just me. Everybody, people stop me on the street here and they are just afraid that they are going to be abandoned. They're afraid that people are going to say, well, we did this. Now we can move on to the next thing and the country has any number of problems.

But this is any -- this is going to be here for a long, long time. This culture down here is very much in peril. People's way of life is very much at risk here. And it's a long, long hard fight to have this come back.

And the history in Alaska, the history in Ecuador, the history here is not very favorable to us. So I mean vigilance has got to be the subtle word.

We can certainly acknowledge again that this is a good thing that it's capped. Hopefully it will stay that way.

COOPER: James Carville thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you. Thank you, Anderson. You bet. Appreciate it.


COOPER: All right. Coming up next on 360: are they a salvation or sand traps? Man-made islands, the berms were supposed to stop the oil. Are they creating even more danger, more problems?

You heard Billy Nungesser earlier supporting them. You'll hear from the scientist who says they are doing maybe more harm than good.

Also, "Keeping them Honest," supplies in Haiti blocked at the ports, at the airport, at the customs ports, from getting in. We've been demanding answers. Tonight: an important and encouraging update to tell you about from the ground in Port-au-Prince.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: All right. If you're just joining us, I want to update you on the breaking news tonight. For the first time in 87 days, no oil from the BP well is flowing into the Gulf. It stopped gushing at exactly 3:25 p.m. Eastern time today. But after a seal was closed, BP is cautioning that this is part of a test to measure the pressure within the well. They say the test was going to be reviewed every six hours over the next 48 hours.

We're going to continue to monitor the breaking development and bring you the latest information as soon as we get it. Though, as you know, from watching this program, BP is not exactly forthcoming with real-time information. But this is the latest information we have and from just watching the live feed -- no oil seems to be coming out of the well.

If the oil is not pouring into the water, we wanted to find out exactly where is it? All of the oil that's still out there, where is it now?

Chad Myers joins us next -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, you know, the thickest stuff is still well off shore and that's great news. Obviously here is the shore; this would be Florida, here is Louisiana and then back out towards Texas.

There is still a sheen in this entire area bound by this big red line that I just made there. But most of the oil is well off shore. And I guess that's the best thing we can talk about is that how far away it is and where it's going to be going.

We also always talk about this loop current thing coming out of the Caribbean and sometimes getting all the way to where the oil should be and then back down up here -- up into the northeast. That is not happening.

Actually, it's not happening at all that way. It's kind of cut off and coming only up to around Cuba and then back to the Florida Keys. So all this is just kind of circulating around; that's not getting the oil into the Gulf Stream. That's another fantastic development from Mother Nature.

Here we go. Here's the rain shower activity. Why do we care about this? Because if we get storms right over the area, the skimming efforts have to stop; the waves get too big, the wave -- basically the oil goes over the skimmers and there's no skimming happening any way. That does not look likely for the next couple of days, we look pretty good here.

And then for the Gulf of Mexico and tropical development, there is nothing to be had. Now, there is a small area of development down here. This would Honduras and Guatemala. This would be the Yucatan Peninsula. That would be Cancun -- hard to see but there is Cuba. And this is going to move off to the west, so not into the Gulf of Mexico at all.

So a lot of good things happening all at one time and I guess all I would say is it's about time -- Anderson.

COOPER: I mean -- so the oil hasn't penetrated as deep into the wetlands as some had feared early on and that's really because Mother Nature not pushing it in. If a big storm does come, though, that's one of the concerns that that big oil slick that is still out there would be pushed inland.

MYERS: There is no question that if we had a hurricane over here, that the wind would come in and blow the oil right into either the Mississippi Sound, the Chandulier Islands or back all the way here into the wetlands.

And that's because it's still here. The winds would be coming in this direction, blowing it -- a hurricane at 125 miles per hour. Nothing like that out there; so that's a -- the good news is, this doesn't exist yet and so far Mother Nature is cooperating. I know it's supposed to be a busy season. But right now, so far, so good.

COOPER: Yes, let's keep our fingers crossed for the next two months watching the hurricanes. Chad, appreciate it.

Of course, if all goes well in the next few days, there might not be any more oil spilling into the Gulf. The fact is there are millions of barrels of oil already in the water. Chad just showed you.

To fight it, officials in Louisiana are starting to build miles of sand berms. Now, today, Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal has been a big proponent of these berms, toured one man-made island, a barrier island now under construction.

Jindal said that the berms are critical in protecting the state's coastline.

Listen to what he said.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUSIANA: Sand berms work 24/7. The sand berms not only capture the oil you can see on the surface, they capture the oil you can't see below the surface as well.


COOPER: Well, not everyone agrees. In fact, a lot of scientists say that they could be doing more harm than good. This is a photograph of a berm that was taken on July 8th. As you can see in there, the berm appears to be kind of disappearing under the motion of the sea, along with the equipment that was used to build it.

Now, critics say the berms are actually -- could be doing more harm than good and they're posing a risk to protected areas. Robert Young shares that opinion. He's a professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University. He joined me earlier via Skype. Watch.


COOPER: Professor Young, the oil has stopped flowing into the Gulf, at least for now, but the oil that's already out there may be washing up in sensitive wetlands for a long time to come. Are these berms a good idea? In your opinion, do they work at all?

ROBERT YOUNG, WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY: Well, I don't think they will and I don't think they will for a number of reasons.

I don't think they are going to last long enough to block very much oil. And I don't think they are going to be a significant block for the oil that's existing and making its way through the passes and the inlets into the wetlands behind them.

COOPER: The governor says, well, look, they've recovered 500 pounds of oily debris in just one day on one of these berms and that they are key strategic points.

YOUNG: Well, the question really is not whether a pile of sand out in the Gulf will collect a little bit of oil, certainly it will. The real question is would we have been able to collect that through traditional methods like skimming.

COOPER: In your opinion, will these berms have some sort of negative environmental impact. I mean will -- would it actually make it worse.

YOUNG: First of all, we don't think that this project is going to work, we don't think the berm is going to last and certainly there's been very good photographic evidence recently showing that even a small storm can tear these things apart pretty well. What really frightens me is that I heard recently that the governor's office is preparing to apply for a permit to riffraff or put hard structure around these berm to armor the structures that they build and that would be an environmental disaster for Louisiana.

COOPER: Why is that?

YOUNG: Well, if you create essentially a rock wall out there and it's still not quite clear, the extent of the armoring that they would like to do, but they have a permit to build 40-plus miles of berm, and if they were to try and armor all of it to keep them from washing away, then you would completely change the dynamics of that coast.

You're going to change the way the tides move in and out. You're going to change the wave climate. You're going to change the way the sediment moves and all of this could be very detrimental to habitat. It could do more harm than good for the wetlands that you're trying to protect.

COOPER: You're hearing that perhaps the ecological impact of this may not be as bad as some had feared early on. Tell me about that.

YOUNG: Well, I've spoken with a lot of agency officials and a lot of scientists in Louisiana. So far the oil has not penetrated incredibly deeply into the wetlands and there is a growing faith that the system could recover from this spill.

And I think what the scientists are becoming increasingly worried about is that the plans for the long term ecological restoration of coastal Louisiana that has been under way for the 20 years -- this is wetland restoration and letting the river reoccupy some parts of the flood plain and using a sensible, planned barrier island restoration, that those plans may be all cast (ph) asunder by these projects to do massive, basically unplanned coastal engineering that will completely reconfigure the Louisiana coast.

COOPER: Do you think this is a case of a politician basically wanting to be seen doing something -- the governor, local officials -- and therefore pushing this berm project even though you're saying the science isn't really there?

YOUNG: You know, look, I'm very hesitant to question the motive of Louisiana politicians. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are proposing these projects because they believe that they will work. And it's unfortunate that they haven't done the kind of consultation with the excellent coastal scientists that they have in Louisiana I think to include their feedback. And the scientists and the agency officials who are criticizing these projects are doing so because we also believe that what we have is in the best interest for coastal Louisiana.

COOPER: Professor Robert Young, I appreciate your expertise tonight. Thank you.

YOUNG: Thanks very much.


COOPER: Still ahead: five years after Katrina, "Upward Bound" in New Orleans, a program that's helping high school students here map their path to college and once they get to college, they stay.


COOPER: New Orleans continues to rebuild, of course, after Katrina nearly 5 years after the hurricane. The signs of progress are everywhere in the city. We see it in the streets and in the schools. But for some kids, obstacles remain. In tonight's "Perry's Principles," CNN education contributor Steve Perry spotlights one program that helps high school kids prepare for the next level.


STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: When I was a kid, I needed help getting into college. We're going to find out about how a program that helped me continue to help children here in New Orleans. TANYA JONES, UPWARD BOUND, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Few uphold the value of education, studying or test prep sessions that you know that will really make a difference for you.

PERRY: Statistically, the people that you're dealing -- the children you're dealing with should not make it, yet what percentage of your children do you send to college?

JONES: Close to 100 percent.

PERRY: If a child goes up "Upward Bound," they are going to school year-round.


PERRY: And on Saturdays?


PERRY: And after school.

JONES: Tutoring, yes.

PERRY: Tutoring.


PERRY: But people say kids don't want to go to school during the summer.

JONES: Well, it depends on what is happening in the environment where they are. Sometimes it can be a good place to be. Unfortunately, a lot of our schools aren't a really good place to be.


TONI BATTISTE, UPWARD BOUND STUDENT: It's a requirement because since Katrina, you know, there's like a lot of abandoned house that everybody's going to come together.

TRAVON VARNADO, UPWARD BOUND STUDENT: Pre-Katrina, it was a very quiet neighborhood. We hardly had any problems. But after the hurricane, we've had new people come in and all of that stuff like that. And it's been a little bit more rowdy than usual but --

PERRY: What's rowdy? The people are talking loud or people selling drugs?

VARNADO: I would say it's kind of a mixture between the both. Yes.

JONES: Sometimes they are going back to neighborhoods where they have to make choices not to get involved in any kind of activities that would --

PERRY: I really like what you said -- activities. What might these activities be?

JONES: Criminal activities.


JONES: Potentially.

PERRY: ok.

JONES: If there were no "Upward Bound," what would you be doing?

VARNADO: I would be at home doing pretty much nothing, to be honest with you. I would be lost. I'd be lost.

BATTISTE: Yes. I'm the same. I probably would have even got a job.

PERRY: Who would have helped you with your college educations?

BATTISTE: I don't know.

PERRY: Who would have taken you on college tours?

BATTISTE: Nobody. I probably wouldn't have seen any of the colleges that I saw.

PERRY: Would you even have known what a college tour was?

VARNADO: No sir.

JONES: Did you go through some kind of training or something here to learn how to use the camera?


PERRY: Your school system per pupil gets a certain amount of money per pupil, but this "Upward Bound" program at Tulane, about what per pupil?

JONES: Well, maybe $2,000.

PERRY: So for $8,000, from freshman year to the senior year, you can be the difference, this "Upward Bound" -- Tulane's "Upward Bound" could be the difference between a child who goes to college and a child who suffers a fate that seems predetermined.



COOPER: It's pretty amazing, Steve. I mean "Upward Bound," the program, seems really cost-effective. What's the solution to the issue here?

PERRY: Well, I went through the program myself, interestingly enough. And the solution is to find those programs and their individuals who are already successful because the problem that we're facing is we need to find a way to send more children to college. More children from these (INAUDIBLE) events, populations need to get into college so they can live a more enriched life so they can be a better contributor to the society as a whole.

COOPER: It's amazing that for $8,000 over the course of four years, this program can make such a difference in kids' lives. It's great Steve.

PERRY: What is especially amazing about it is though it is cost effective and has been in place since the war on poverty, every single year it seems to be under siege by some government agency or another because they want to cut the funding to it.

"Upward Bound" has been profoundly successful, it's teaching children to fish and it's not giving them fish. They have to go to school year round and bust their humps, as well as on the weekends. So what they get they earned.

COOPER: They certainly seem to. Steve Perry, appreciate it. Thanks.

PERRY: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: The breaking news tonight: The spill has been stopped, at least for now, since about 3:25 p.m. Eastern time today. BP has managed to keep oil out of the Gulf, part of a test to measure the pressure of the well. We all hope it holds, of course.

An update now though about those pets abandoned by families here in the gulf because they simply can't afford to take care of them anymore.

Randi Kaye told us about it last night. She joins us now from the Louisiana SPCA shelter. She actually has some good news for us. Randi, what's the good news?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the good news is that after our story ran last night, folks here tell me that they got hundreds -- hundreds of calls and e-mails from all over the country, in fact, from as far away as Guam and Hawaii looking to adopt some of the animals that we featured in the our story last night, which is really great news.

Including this guy right here, actually, this little girl, this is Panda, that little terrier that I was holding during my story last, she's a little shy. But she got the most calls from New York, Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, all over the place. But I do have to tell you that she has not been officially adopted yet.

So Panda, say hello. There you go. Say hello. She's still officially available for adoption.

But some dogs here did get to go home. They got new families today. You may recall the poodle, who we showed you in our story. That poodle is Silk. If you take a look there, you can see that is Silk with her new owner. Silk is two years old. And Silk got to go home with her today.

I just want you to listen to how they sounded, how happy they sound as they left the building today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby boy, baby boy, that's my baby boy. Baby boy, baby boy, you're going to see daddy in the truck -- daddy in the truck waiting on us.


KAYE: That's right, daddy was waiting for Silk who is now renamed Pepper in the truck.

But that poodle wasn't the only lucky one. There was also a retriever mix named Mocha who was featured in our story last night who also got to go home today with a family; and also a beagle that we want to show you named Diamond. Diamond has been here and it turns out that Diamond's new owner, who just came to adopt her today, the family, the mom, the wife in this family had seen Diamond. She had seen our story while she was on the treadmill, Anderson, at the gym.

She said we have to have that dog. She called her husband and said we need to go get Diamond. And so they met today, they met the other beagle that the family already owned and the whole thing was a hit. And I spoke with her about that adoption right after.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miss Diamond caught my eye sitting in the kennel all by herself. We already have a beagle. So we thought he could use a companion. He's about ten. We had been thinking about it and she looked like the perfect fit.

KAYE: What do you think about all these owners having to turn in their pets?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart. That was a big motivation. It just seemed -- I don't think we planned on doing it this soon. But, you know, there's one little thing we can do to help something out. It was a good reason to come.


COOPER: Randi, there are obviously still an awful lot of dogs and cats and pets all across the Gulf, frankly, that have been put up for adoption. Can you show us some of the other dogs that people called about who are still available?

KAYE: Sure. We have this one right here, Anderson. This is Maxine, she's a terrier mix, got a little bit of Lab in there too. She got calls today from folks in Georgia looking for her. This is Amanda. Amanda is a Border Collie mix, who's just absolutely beautiful. She's 8 years old. She got calls from Pennsylvania today, I'm told.

And this is Christy. Christy is a pit bull. She's 5 months old and she got calls from New York today.

But there really are, Anderson, hundreds of dogs here who are still available, in fact, including this little one right here. But also, I just have to show you -- if you can hand me -- this is Panda, but this is Panda's sister, Anderson and they are both available. They both were turned in.

COOPER: So if someone outside Louisiana wants one of these dogs, the shelter doesn't ship them to them across the country. How does that work.

KAYE: No, actually not. They're really careful about who they send these dogs too. They're working with transportation companies to try and get them to ship the dogs to shelters around the country, who might have more room, might have more bed space if you want to call it that. They won't just ship them to somebody in California or Florida or Texas as much as they'd love to, to get these dogs home. They just can't take that risk.

So they're encouraging people to go to their local shelter and also check their Web site, and they can find out where some of these dogs have gone to.

COOPER: All right, it's Randi thanks very much.

Hey, that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.