Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 4:31pm

amber and adam briggle are Denton
Amber and Adam Briggle are Denton, Tx

In January, Amber and Adam Briggle of Frack Free Denton spoke to Tammany Together regarding the history of the 2014 ban against hydraulic fracturing in Denton, Texas.

Despite the shale play already humming in the overheated boom, Denton passed stricter regulations, then a complete ban on fracking once those regulations were found to be routinely violated by drillers.

The Briggles recount the beginning of a movement, from scattered personalities fighting permit by permit fights, scaling to a "Denton Advisory Group" that wrested legitimacy away from the industry Task Forces, leading to regulation of routine noise and spill problems. Once companies were found to be violating their reasonable regulations, though, movement leaders fought and won a ban on hydraulic fracturing for their town of Denton, in the middle of...

Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 3:37pm

At the CWPPRA meeting this past month, Task Force members voted on important wetland projects in order to protect new orleans from surge.  the Shell Beach Marsh Restoration project and the Orleans Landbridge projects are in the footprint of the State's Master Plan and the Army Corps' MRGO restoration.  Unfortunately, the funding for such essential flood protection for New Orleans has not been forthcoming from either the Corps or the State. For 24 years, CWPPRA has led the way in developing the science, engineering, the monitoring, and the implementation process for the wetland restoration program. There is much to be learned from the successes and the failures of the program.

These two projects, though they are small, are in critical landform areas in the Pontchartrain Basin. They will build essential wetlands that knock down storm surge and provide fish and wildlife habitat....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 10:58am

Tell BP to Make It RightThe third phase of the BP drilling disaster civil trial resumed yesterday, and we need your help telling BP to make things right – click here to take action.

The results of this trial will ultimately determine how many billions of dollars in Clean Water Act civil fines BP must pay. Under the RESTORE Act, 80% of these fines will come back to the Gulf for restoration, so there is a lot at stake for the Gulf’s communities and environment.

In September of 2014, the court determined that BP’s conduct leading to the drilling disaster was “reckless,” and BP was guilty of willful misconduct and gross negligence. Despite this ruling, BP continues to cynically downplay its responsibility for the catastrophe, and is fighting in the courts to avoid making things right. BP has even said that the...

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 12:11pm
A wetland cut in North Carolina to supply hardwoods for wood pellets to be burnt for electricity in Europe. Could Gulf wetlands be next?

From the cypress swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin to “America’s Amazon” in Alabama, the forests and wetlands of the Gulf South states are home to incredible populations of wildlife, provide recreational opportunities from hunting and fishing to kayaking and camping, filter our water and prevent floods, and generally grace us with the beauty of nature.

Unfortunately, these special places throughout the region are under threat from the expanding biomass industry that is currently targeting Southern forests at a rate that is impossible for these forests to sustain. Our beautiful forests, including many wetland forests and bottomland hardwoods, are being clear-cut, processed into pellets, and then shipped to Europe to be burned for electricity under the guise of “clean energy”. 

This may sound eerily familiar to long-time followers of Gulf Restoration Network. In the years following Hurricane Katrina, GRN worked with partners throughout the Gulf to ...

Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 1:46pm
Tar ball on Grand Isle
GRN's Jonathan Henderson holding tar balls discovered in Grand Isle, LA. January 12, 2015.

Update - 1/16/15: Just a couple of hours after posting this blog, some big news broke on the BP trial. Judge Barbier issued his ruling on Phase 2 of the trial, which concluded back in October 2013 and was focused on the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf and the response and recovery to the disaster. The Judge ruled that BP released 134 million gallons of oil during the disaster (higher than what BP's lawyers had argued, and less than what the government's lawyers contended), and that BP was not grossly negligent in its response to the disaster. 

As mentioned below, Judge Barbier has already found BP grossly negligent for their actions leading to the blowout. This new ruling that BP was not guilty of gross negligence in their response to the disaster is essentially saying that BP is no different than others in the industry. The fact that no one...

Friday, January 9, 2015 - 4:32pm
Gopher Tortoise hatchling, FWC via flickrIt's baaack!  
With the help of WTUL 91.5fm, GRN is getting the word out about the resurrection of the Washington Parish Dam. Listen as I talk to WTUL's Janet Hays about this waste of taxpayer money. Since 2001, this project has come back from the dead, again and again, to haunt Northshore residents. Each time, the purpose of the dam changes, from water extraction to water conservation, to real estate and 'development opportunities.' Will Louisiana taxpayers now be forced to foot the bill to displace Washington Parish residents and to create a cheap source of water for hydrofracking?
This Dam will destroy 1000 acres of wetland forest, habitat for the Gopher Tortoise, flood out residents, as well as force the relocation of at least 9 historic cemeteries from Washington Parish. Washington Parish residents have fought the proposal since 2001....
Thursday, January 8, 2015 - 1:51pm
Andrea DeClouet and Pat Bertucci in Ironton, LA.

Together, we can win. In a precedent setting decision, a state judge overturned a permit for the RAM coal export terminal. 

The proposed RAM coal export terminal in Plaquemines Parish would interfere with one of Louisiana’s major coastal restoration projects (the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion) and start mile-long, uncovered coal trains running through Gretna, Belle Chasse and the West Bank. This victory stops the RAM coal export terminal in its tracks. People for the coast prevailed - what a great way to start the year!

GRN and Sierra Club, with our partners in the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition and community leaders, led a robust grassroots campaign that fought this proposed terminal.

Thank you for signing petitions, putting up yard signs, speaking to elected officials, participating in meetings, recruiting friends, family and neighbors, spreading the word, and donating to support the monitoring and organizing it takes to keep move this forward. Your engagement...

Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 1:35pm
Tar Ball Barataria Bay April 2014
GRN's Jonathan Henderson holding tar balls discovered on the beach in Grand Isle, LA, April 2014.

It has been over 4 years since the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico occurred and a recent report issued by Auburn University reveals oil, in the form of tar balls, is still being found on Alabama's beaches.  This report shows what locals, walking along the beach, have known all along. They've been noticing the tar is still in the sand on their beaches. One woman remarked on the strong petroleum odor emitted when one of the tar balls was broken apart.

According to a WKRG in Mobile, the Auburn University researchers state one of the reasons tar balls are still being found on the beach is because the oil is buried in the sand and takes longer to degrade. BP was quick to contradict the scientists' findings and, as usual, downplay the severity of the situation, sending a statement to the news outlet proclaiming the...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 6:32pm
Fracking in the Louisiana Haynesville Shale Region

High-volume hydraulic fracturing (or simply, ‘fracking’) is characterized by the pressurized injection of unique water-chemical mixtures thousands of feet below our planet’s surface. This forced insertion enlarges cracked geologic formations, releasing trapped hydrocarbons like natural gas and petroleum for collection. Although some champion fracking as a futuristic means of energy recovery, others see it as a shortsighted practice that carries great risks to our society’s collective health.

As of today, New York State will officially be ‘frack-free.’

The state’s Acting Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, announced this formal prohibition alongside the publication of his department’s comprehensive public health review of the contentious practice. In the months leading up to its release, much speculation and anticipation had built around the study’s potential contents.

For those unaware of New York’s political picture, Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken quite an unremarkable stance on the fracking issue while in office. His predecessor...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 2:18pm
Scenic Amite River, Scott Eustis GRN c/o
Last week, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries denied a permit for Comstock Resources, Inc, to withdraw fracking water from the Amite River. Scenic Rivers are Outstanding Natural Resource Waters of Louisiana, and cannot be degraded; their ecological values must be kept alive. These are our sacred rivers, whose wilderness values must remain unaltered, so that Louisiana's ecological and aesthetic heritage is preserved for future generations.
Despite that, Comstock and Goodrich sought to take them from us.  But because of your actions, Louisiana has stood up to protect our Scenic Rivers, and six extraction permits have been withdrawn or denied! Thanks to the Department, we can keep the Amite in the Amite, and the Tickfaw in the Tickfaw. Over 60 million gallons of water will not be turned into hazardous waste--it will flow, and provide habitat and life for Louisiana.
You can read the Joint formal comment...