liquid oil in the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area, at the mouth of the Mississippi River. March 27, 2012. Photo courtesy CPRA.Three weeks ago GRN was busting out the bubbly over a significant step forward in efforts to bring BP's sure-to-be-historic Clean Water Act fines back to the Gulf to fund ecoystem restoration initatives.
Perhaps our celebration was a BIT premature. While I warned there were many steps remaining, I really didn't anticipate the major side step that we just encountered, courtesy the House of Representatives.
Instead of passing a transportation bill that was remotely like the Senate version we were celebrating (which included the RESTORE Act to ensure that 80% of BP's Clean Water Act fines were used for Gulf economic and environmental restoration efforts), the House just couldn't get their act together, and instead forced Congress to kick the can down the road, passing a 90 day continuing resolution for current transportation funding.
So that gives Congress nearly 3 months to find common ground on a transportation bill, ideally which includes RESTORE.
I'm sure they'll get right on that.
Actually, the first thing the House did after kicking the can down the road was to go on recess. The Senate is following their lead today, and neither chamber will be back in business until April 16th, just a few days before the 2nd memorial of the beginning of the BP drilling disaster on April 20th, 2010.
That's right, with the memorial looming, and with news breaking about BP's continuing impacts on the Gulf, from clobbered corals, sick dolphins, dangerous tarballs, and liquid oil lingering in Louisiana's marsh, Congress STILL couldn't prioritize the Gulf long enough to pass the biggest piece of no-brainer legislation this side of taking back subsidies to the world's wealthiest corporations... Oh wait, they couldn't do that either.
If you want to help the Gulf, I'd suggest taking advantage of this recess, and stopping by (or calling) your member's district office to urge them to make the Gulf a priority.
One additional consideration: Saturday night is Earth Hour, which kicks off the beginning of Earth Month, with plenty of days to commemorate for increased Gulf advocacy: the BP Memorial (April 20), John Muir's Birthday (April 21 - Before he founded the Sierra Club he hiked from Indiana to the Gulf, you know), Earth Day (April 22).
I bet there's an earth day celebration or festival or something in your neck of the woods. We'd love to help you Gulf Coastify it! Gulf Future will have petitions, factsheets, etc. available soon to download, you just need to find the event and a friend or two to help you table.
Let us know if you're interested. The Gulf needs you!
Aaron Viles is GRN's deputy director. Follow him on twitter here.
"Everybody needs beauty... places to play and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike" John Muir, born April 21, 1838