Nightly News   |  June 03, 2010

Oiled pelicans a symbol of state's conundrum

While Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal found several oil-drenched brown pelicans during a tour of the barrier islands on Thursday, he insisted the struggling economy still needs more oil drilling. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We saw him earlier. Louisiana 's Governor Bobby Jindal is a popular figure in that state these days for standing up for that state. And remember, Louisiana 's a place where fisheries and the oil business live side by side. They're both big, important sources of income. That was apparent today when the governor came upon some of the worse of this spill, birds covered in oil, and yet said the oil business can do a better job. NBC 's Kerry Sanders was with him.

KERRY SANDERS reporting: On east Grand Terre , a Louisiana barrier island , a heartbreaking discovery today. Here, where the thick oil is lapping the shoreline, birds are trapped, dying in the ooze. Even the wildlife experts say it's hard to tell if that's a gull or a tern mired in the goo.

Governor BOBBY JINDAL: We are literally almost about a hundred miles from the actual oil spill , and you're seeing this kind of heavy oil here already. This is incredibly sad.

SANDERS: It didn't take but minutes for Governor Bobby Jindal to find a brown pelican and then another drenched in oil, their struggle a contrarian symbol as the governor argues the struggling economy here needs more oil drilling . Governor Jindal is calling on the White House to lift its current moratorium. When you stand here and look at that, how do you balance the desire to continue oil drilling with the disaster and that right there?

Gov. JINDAL: You know, the reality is we shouldn't have to choose between safe, domestic production of energy and safeguarding our wildlife and our coast and our way of life.

SANDERS: The governor believes the best line of defense now, manmade sandy berms like this, six feet high, two miles long here, and the state wants BP to pay for more than 100 more miles. Today some oiled birds that had been rescued nearby were released, but wildlife agents say these pelicans and other birds they rescued on the island today will likely not survive. Kerry Sanders , NBC News , east Grand Terre Island .

WILLIAMS: It's tough to watch. We'll have more from the gulf a bit later on in this broadcast. First here, a program note. Tomorrow night I'll have the first-ever interview with the crew that saved 115 men from that burning Deepwater Horizon rig. Their boat was right alongside. This will air in a special edition of "Dateline" tomorrow night at 9, 8 Central .