Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Helen Rose Patterson
Victory for the Mississippi Coast!
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 12:15

ship island 4 blogOn June 19th, Hinds County Chancery Court Judge William Singletary blocked the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) plan to offer gas leases in state waters. This decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by Gulf Restoration Network and the Sierra Club. You can read the full decision here.

The agency did not consider the effects drilling would have on the environment, economy and quality of life on the coast, and now they’ll have to. The Hind County Chancery court stated what citizens of the coast already knew, that the rules for drilling were arbitrary and capricious because testing and leasing are fundamentally linked to drilling.

Read more: Victory for the Mississippi Coast!
Jayeesha Dutta
Mud, Music and Mayhem: GRN at Bonnaroo
Monday, 23 June 2014 11:56

particpating in piece 1 Fest-goer participating in "Coast:Line" tapestry.Last week, Gulf Restoration Network made its 8th trip to Manchester, Tennessee for a week of advocating and educating music lovers across the nation on the continuing impacts of the BP oil disaster on the Gulf Coast. Amidst the 80,000 attendees and sprawling acreage affectionately known as “The Farm”, Bonnaroo has been committed to sustainability and elevating environmental causes through their nonprofit area dubbed “Planet Roo” located in the center of the main festival area. 

This year, we found everyone from our team of 7 was born on the Gulf Coast – 2 in Mississippi, 2 in Alabama and 3 in Louisiana! We discovered that each of us possessed a very personal and vested interest in protecting, defending and restoring the coast. Despite a rocky start to the weeklong adventure - beginning with a flat tire at 1 am close to Meridian, Mississippi and a six-hour ordeal entering the vendor campground due to the extremely muddy conditions that left many cars stuck in mud (including ours the following day), we persevered and set up our booth ready to go to advocate for a healthy coast!

Read more: Mud, Music and Mayhem: GRN at Bonnaroo
Sarah Holtz
GRN Cheers to 20 Years with a Solstice Party in the Park
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 16:34

This Saturday, June 21, GRN will be celebrating 20 years of environmental stewardship in the Gulf with a Summer Solstice Party in partnership with Global Green USA, The Green Project, and Concordia: Community Centered Planning and Design, who are also commemorating decades of service this year. The Summer Solstice Celebration is our way of saying a collective thank you to our supporters with champagne, watermelon, and live music. We will be auctioning a series of unique rain barrels painted by more than 30 New Orleans artists, representing a community-based collaboration between sustainable storm protection efforts and local culture. View and bid on the rain barrels starting Wednesday, June 18th, and join us for the culmination of the auction at Saturday’s Solstice Party. The following is a short preview of six partnering artists and their one-of-a-kind rain barrels.

Karel Sloane-Boekbinder
Rain Barrel GRN 2014 017 1
Karel Sloane-Boekbinder is an abstract expressionist painter who has lived in New Orleans since 2001. She has been actively engaged in coastal restoration since the BP disaster, winning two awards during the Art Spill: Disaster, Art, Activism, and Recovery juried art show, and most recently directing an art and performance show called Impressions, which explored the intersections of impressionist art, environment, and coastal land loss in Louisiana. Her eye-catching impressionist rain barrel portrays a sunrise juxtaposed with a sunset.

Pippin Frisbie-Calder img 1

Born in Hammond, Louisiana and raised in coastal Maine, Pippin-Frisbie Calder is a printmaker who creates visual representations of the diverse and threatened ecosystems of the Gulf Coast. Striking in scale and intricacy, her prints raise awareness about human environmental impact on our coastal wetlands and preserve a collective memory of natural spaces in Louisiana. Frisbie-Calder’s rain barrel combines woodcut print and wheat paste to depict a mangrove swamp.

Read more: GRN Cheers to 20 Years with a Solstice Party in the Park
Harry Lowenburg
Catch the Fisherman's Pledge
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 11:27

FCP ButtonOver the past two weeks, I have travelled to all five Gulf states to talk with and listen to fishermen. Several volunteers have helped collect over 600 Fisherman Conservation Corps Pledges and another 300 plus supporters have taken the pledge online. Having spoken with both recreational and commercial fishermen of all ages, backgrounds and gender, the level of concern about the depletion of fish and the support for the issues we work on in the Gulf Fish Forever Campaign shown by the fishermen gives me hope. As Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Lexie and Siblings Best Fathers Day!

In Destin, Florida, I spoke with wealthy boat owners, charter captains, commercial fishermen, small business owners, a magazine publisher, a seafood wholesaler, restaurateurs, and a resort manager (all fishermen).* Then I stopped at a tackle shop in Navarre, the Pensacola Bay fishing pier, a fishing rodeo in Perdido, the Alabama State Park Fishing Pier in Gulf Shores and a Gulfport Harbor fishing pier. Finally I stopped at the newly reopened Slidell Fishing Pier on Father’s Day were I met Malcolm and this three kids enjoying time together. And call it karma or good luck, just as they all finished taking the pledge, Lexie caught her first fish. She will never forget this Father’s Day. 

Read more: Catch the Fisherman's Pledge
Cathy Harrelson
Say 'No' to the Sabal Trail Pipeline
Thursday, 12 June 2014 12:00

SabalTrailPipelineActionAlertFlorida’s besieged waterways are facing a new threat: Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, wants to run a natural gas pipeline over, under and through our aquifers, rivers and springsheds. Our waters are already under threat from runoff pollution and over-pumping, and this major pipeline would risk sinkholes, gas leaks and aquifer contamination. Florida’s water is too important to take these risks—but we can say ‘no’ today!

Sabal Trail is seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and will submit its preferred pipeline route sometime in 2014.  This 300 mile long natural gas pipeline would cut a swath across the springs and rivers of north Florida, through the Green Swamp to Kissimmee and on to Florida Power & Light’s plant at Port St. Lucie.  It would transport a minimum of 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day across the Florida peninsula, and it would risk explosion due to the corrosive karst geology of the region.

Tell the FERC to disapprove the Sabal Trail pipeline.

Read more: Say 'No' to the Sabal Trail Pipeline
Guest Blogger
Proposal for Destruction in Calcasieu Parish
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 08:11

Axial Corporation has proposed the construction of an ethylene plant that will damage approximately 110 acres of wetlands. 

The proposed ethylene plant will be in the Lower Calcasieu Watershed- a major flood protection area. The proposal consists of a five-part construction plan including a plant site and elevated pipeline.
The vicinity in the Lower Calcasieu Watershed affected by the ethylene plant is forested wetland, surrounded by industrial sites. Construction of the plant will destroy 260 acres land, with 110 of those being forested wetland.
Forested wetlands are extremely important for the Gulf Coast. They provide storm surge protection, erosion control and water filtration. They are also home to Louisiana’s native birds and fish, among their many other beneficial values. 
One of the foreseeable impacts will be flooding at surrounding commercial sites. 
Besides flood protection loss, there’s always the daunting risk of industrial discharge into such a vital ecological area. The Calcasieu Watershed is home to an abundance of species. Eleven are species of conservation concern, including the Calcasieu Painted Crawfish. 
Deer habitat will also be displaced if the permit is approved and locals will lose a prized deer hunting ground.
The ethylene plant's permit application does include a mitigation plan. But the proposed mitigation does not directly replace the wetlands flood protection value in the area. 
The Gulf Restoration Network does not support the unnecessary, detrimental destruction of our wetlands. RESTORE (Restore Explicit Symmetry To Our Ravaged Earth), a Louisiana environmental group, has also joined the fight against Axial Corporation.  
Join us in demanding that the Corps and DEQ protect our wetlands and preserve hunting values by denying Axial Corporation’s permit for the ethylene plant.
Chae Jiles is a Water Resources Intern at GRN


Andrew Whitehurst
GRN at Mississippi United Methodist Annual Conference
Monday, 09 June 2014 15:58

GRN at UMC Conference Gulf Restoration Network was an exhibitor at the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church of Mississippi. We were the only environmental NGO at their meeting at the Jackson Convention Center. The Conference is where clergy and non-clergy delegates meet and shape the work of the church for the year.

One of the Conference themes this year was justice. The Church's justice work covers a variety of ways to help people and communities in need.  In many settings, clean water and healthy wetlands are environmental and social issues. GRN's Mississippi water policy work is never far from justice issues.

Better management of treated runoff downstream of the Kemper County Lignite mine where people fish in Okatibbee Lake, the deteriorated condition of coastal fisheries in the Gulf since the BP disaster, the threat of dredging in a state park for a flood control/land development project on the Pearl River in Jackson, and the confusing and oppressive Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) permit process are all issues that deplete public resources and have disparate adverse impacts on people and communties.

Our reception from the Mississippi UMC conference participants was good and our issues resonated well with them.


Andrew Whitehurst is GRN's Water Policy Director and covers Mississippi issues.

Steve Murchie
Gov. Jindal Signs Big Oil Bailout Bill
Friday, 06 June 2014 13:28

jefferson parish oil and gas canals Oil, Gas, Pipeline Canals in Jefferson Parish. On June 6th, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 469 (becoming act 544), legislation blocking a lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies for their damage to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. The suit, brought by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, was intended to restore wetlands necessary to protect coastal communities from flooding, storm surges, and hurricanes.

The legislation has been criticized by over 80 legal scholars for impacting claims against BP for the Deepwater Horizon disaster (more here and here), and the state attorney general recommended a veto.

This legislation is governance at its worst: poorly written, for the worst of reasons, with no public benefit, and having potentially staggering unintended consequences. Governor Jindal, in his zeal to please the oil and gas industry and further his political ambitions, has abandoned the hundreds of thousands of Louisianans facing another hurricane season with inadequate storm protection and a disappearing coast.

Read more: Gov. Jindal Signs Big Oil Bailout Bill
Matt Rota
Clean Up the Dead Zone!
Friday, 06 June 2014 11:45

CleanUpTheDeadZoneActionAlertLouisiana may soon take a huge step backwards in the effort to protect our coast and clean up the Dead Zone. The Dead Zone, which was the size of Connecticut last year, is an area that forms in the Gulf every summer where oxygen levels get so low that sea life must swim away or suffocate, and it is a proven hazard to our coastal waters. Despite this threat, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) wants to remove the Dead Zone from its “impaired waters” list, a list of waters that need to be cleaned up. Don't let them do it – tell LDEQ to not turn a blind eye to the Dead Zone!

Ever since the EPA told Louisiana to put the Dead Zone on their "impaired waters" list in 2008, the LDEQ has been trying to remove it. Let’s tell LDEQ that their refusal to address the Dead Zone is hurting our coast and communities.

Despite decades of research from distinguished groups and organizations that clearly shows the Dead Zone’s negative impact on state waters, LDEQ claims that there is insufficient data to classify coastal waters impacted by the Dead Zone as impaired. The first step in recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Louisiana needs to get over its denial so that our coast can recover! 

Please take a moment to send LDEQ a message
: The Dead Zone is harming our coast. Put it back on the list of waters that the state must clean up!

Matt Rota is GRN's Senior Policy Director

Harry Lowenburg
GRN hosts local chefs
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 15:26

FishermansPledgeActionAlertAlong with our friends at Café Carmo, the Gulf Restoration Network and the Gulf Fish Forever campaign hosted the monthly meeting of the New Orleans Chapter of the American Culinary Federation on Monday, June 2. Chefs from all over New Orleans and the region were there to hear (and taste) a presentation on sustainable seafood and issues facing Gulf fisheries. Cafe Carmo Chef/owner Dana Honn talked about his efforts to find and serve local seafood that is usually thrown away as bycatch. Carmo was selected in May as the first certified sustainable seafood restaurant in the state of Louisiana by the prestigious Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Dana is passionate about ethical and sustainable business. As he put it, he would rather be one of many than the first. His message to the chefs was that he will share what he has done with anyone.

And Carmo served a Sashimi from Japan's tropical islands using bottle fish that is usually bycatch and a Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew), red grouper, amberjack, cobia and shrimp. Red Grouper is a fisheries management success story, one of 27 species that have recovered from being near collapse since the 1976 Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Management Act.

Read more: GRN hosts local chefs
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