Three years. Three years of dead dolphins, oiled wetlands, and sickness. Three years of BP's misleading PR. Three years of fighting to hold BP accountable. Today marks three years of BP's oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Three years after it began, BP's oil drilling disaster continues to impact the Gulf's residents and ecosystems. Three years later, the Gulf is still waiting for restoration.
But the future looks bright. A highlight of these tough three years was the passage of the RESTORE Act, and soon billions of dollars in BP fines will be flowing to the Gulf. These funds are a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a stronger, and more resilient Gulf for future generations. We must seize this opportunity.
Take action now to tell the members of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to use RESTORE dollars to secure a healthy Gulf.
Algae floating in the water column. In the Gulf, algae dies and is consumed by bacteria, causing the Gulf Dead Zone. Photo courtesy of NASAAs we all know at this point that we as a nation are flooding our waterways with nitrogen and phosphorous pollution, which causes drinking water problems, harmful algae blooms, disruption to recreation, fish kills, the Gulf Dead Zone, and maybe even cancer! Despite all of these threats, Louisiana continues to drag its feet in truly addressing the problem. Today Louisiana representatives are at the Dead Zone Task Force meeting in Louisville, KY. This task force, which has been in existence for more than a decade, has come out with two â€śactionâ€ť plans. The most recent 2008 plan stipulated that each state in the Task Force will â€śComplete and implement comprehensive nitrogen and phosphorus reduction strategies.â€ť Despite this, Louisiana has decided to instead develop a â€śNutrient Management Strategy.â€ť This simple change in wording from "reduction" to "management" is a step backwards, insinuating that Louisiana does not need to reduce its contribution to local pollution problems. Click here to read the letter that GRN, along with several Louisiana conservation groups sent to protest this change in direction.
Today, GRN and partner organizations held press events in New Orleans, LA and Biloxi, MS to release Gulf Future Guidance for Sustainable Restoration. This document was drafted by fifty-nine organizations, including GRN, from across the Gulf at the 2013 Gulf Gathering in March. Through two days of discussion we outlined our vision and priorities for how the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, created by the RESTORE Act, should select projects to fund with the BP Deepwater Horizon fines and penalties. By prioritizing ecosystem restoration and the economic benefits it will have for local communities, and by creating safe, healthy and just communities, the Council can build a better, more sustainable Gulf Coast.
Upland pine hillside seep with pitcher plants. The proposed lake would cover similar areas.The Mississippi Water Resources Conference was held in Jackson in early April. This annual conference is sponsored by Mississippi State Universityâ€™s Water Resources Research Institute and features technical presentations on municipal, agricultural and industrial water use. The conference covers all sorts of water projects, including some that threaten streams and wetlands.
One presentation focused on the George County Lake project. Promoters of a lake for the county have been at work for at least a decade. The current proposal for a 5,200 acre water supply lake would dam a yet undisclosed Pascagoula River tributary in George County. One deficiency of the earlier efforts to create a smaller recreational lake was the difficulty of providing adequate wetland mitigation. According to federal law, if a project destroys wetlands, that loss must be mitigated by creating, restoring or preserving wetlands in the same watershed. George County has numerous streams that originate as bayheads, seeps and bogs. Damming any suitable valley to create a lake would submerge many acres of these wetlands. The larger lake now being promoted would still need adequate wetland mitigation. George County has scaled-up the lakeâ€™s size while bringing in stakeholders from another county.
Happy Earth Month! April is a big month for us at GRN, in part because of our partnership with Aveda. For all of Earth Month, Aveda salons and institutes spread word of GRN's work and raise funds to support our Healthy Water and BP Drilling Disaster campaigns. Thanks to Aveda's support over the last 8 years, GRN has protected hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands, stopped numerous polluters from illegally dumping into our Gulf waters, and monitored the ongoing impacts of BP's oil on our coast.
To support our mutual goal of clean water, salons get creative and host fashion shows, walks, and concerts to spread the word and raise funds. One such event was held last week at the Tangerine Salons in Texas. They hosted cut-a-thons, where kids of all ages were trimmed annd styled to benefit GRN.
Thanks Aveda, weâ€™re proud to partner with a company that makes protecting the environment look so good!
Recently there have been two barge companies, U.S. Maritime Services and CGB Marine Services, which have applied to renew their permits to wash the pollutants that they carry into the Mississippi. Not only would they be washing coal and pet coke into the Mighty Mississippi, but also metals like copper and lead, and Dead Zone-causing pollutants like phosphates and nitrates.
Houston's nickname is the Bayou City and with the completion of a parks and trails project that unites all of its major bayous with green space, the nickname will fit even better. Thatâ€™s rightâ€”Houston--the town usually known for its freeways and traffic has approved a major bond initiative aimed at completing a 100 year old idea to unite its bayous with parks and trails.
Bayou Greenways 2020 is the biggest parks project in the state, and one of the largest in the nation. This unique project, made possible by Houstonâ€™s natural landscape of bayous, will elevate the cityâ€™s standing as one of the top â€śquality of placeâ€ť cities in the nation. It also demonstrates our commitment to our invaluable ecological capital in the midst of a very large metroplex.
Eric de Place and David Kershner of Sightline.org have recently written a summary of how coal exports can scum up our wetlands.
Just because spilled coal is not as bad as oil, doesn't mean it's not pollution--especially considered that Louisiana Coal terminals mix their coal with petroleum coke from the refineries upriver.
The black grit blocks out the sun's life-giving rays, clogs sensitive gills; the acidity alters the pH of our waters, and the coal itself can carry metals and PAHs into the homes and bodies of aquatic plants, shellfishes, fishes, and otters.