Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Steve Murchie
Protect Our Coasts and Climate
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 13:22

ProtectOurCoastActionAlertsmallerFrom rising sea levels to stronger storms and ocean acidification, the Gulf of Mexico’s communities, wildlife and ecosystems are already dealing with the consequences of climate change. For our sake and for future generations, we need to take action to prevent its worst impacts. EPA is currently considering pollution standards for climate change-causing carbon pollution. Can you take a minute to tell them to protect our communities by setting strong carbon pollution standards for power plants?

Nearly 40% of US carbon pollution comes from power plants. Yet, these facilities currently have no limits on how much of this pollution they can release into the atmosphere. Urge EPA to take action to curb this pollution now.

Between sea level rise and coastal land loss, the Gulf’s communities are more and more at risk every time a hurricane slams into the coast. In southeast Louisiana, coastal residents are facing the highest relative sea level rise in the world. And according to a recent study, many communities along the Gulf are experiencing higher high tides than ever before in part due to climate change, leaving them more vulnerable to coastal flooding and storm surges.

Read more: Protect Our Coasts and Climate
Matt Rota
Culprit of 2011 Pearl Fish-Kill Seeks Renewed Permit
Monday, 03 February 2014 16:47

templeinlandpondsmaller Antiquated treatment ponds at the mill. GRN photo, flight courtesy of Southwings.Back in the Summer of 2011, the Temple-Inland Paper Mill in Bogalusa, LA dumped some really noxious “black liquor” into the Pearl River and killed hundreds of thousands of fish and other critters.  Since then, they have been bought out by International Paper and fined for some of the damage.  Now, they are applying for a new permit which is not really any more protective than the last one!

There are two upcoming public hearings, and it is important that the public come out and tell International Paper that their new permits should be more protective of the Pearl River and the creatures that live in it.

Hearing Details:


Slidell (Slidell Auditorium, 2056 2nd St, Slidell, LA)

Tuesday, February 4, 6:00 p.m.


Bogalusa (Bogalusa City Hall Courtroom, 202 Arkansas Avenue, Bogalusa, LA.

Thursday, February 6, 6:00 p.m.


We hope to see you out at the hearings to speak up for the Pearl.

Matt is GRN’s Senior Policy Director

Cyn Sarthou
EPA Needs to Stop Stalling on Dispersants
Saturday, 01 February 2014 10:41

EPADispersantsActionAlertsmallerThe BP drilling disaster made it tragically clear that federal rules overseeing the use of chemical dispersants are deeply flawed. In the wake of the disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promised reforms. Yet it’s been almost four years, and our coastal communities are still at risk. Tell EPA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to act now to reform dispersant rules to protect the health of our communities and environment.

1.84 million gallons of Corexit were sprayed into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP disaster, despite responders having no knowledge of the its long-term impacts or effectiveness underwater. Sadly, those impacts are still reverberating through the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems and communities today. EPA and OMB need to stop stalling.

We cannot continue to allow oil companies to use these dangerous chemicals as a first response to oil spills without ensuring that they won’t do long-term harm to the people and wildlife of the Gulf. Please take action to tell EPA and OMB to hurry up and publish revisions to their dispersant regulations before the next major disaster.

Cyn Sarthou is GRN's Executive Director. 

Cathy Harrelson
Fight Florida Fracking
Friday, 31 January 2014 12:24

FloridaFrackingAlert smallerAs Floridians guard our coastlines against drilling, Texas oil companies are quietly starting to drill for oil in our backyards using a technique known as “acid fracking.” In Collier County, east of Naples, residents are banding together to fight against the proposed Golden Gate acid fracking project in their community. Can you help them by urging the EPA to deny the injection well permit for the Golden Gate project and protect Florida families from dangerous drilling?

Florida Acid Fracking injects massive quantities of fresh water, chemicals and salt water into the layer below the aquifer that provides most of us with drinking water – dissolving this layer to free up dirty fossil fuels and threatening chemical and salt water intrusion into drinking water supplies. Our water is too precious to risk. Tell EPA to deny the injection well permit and protect Floridians from acid fracking.

Read more: Fight Florida Fracking
Matt Rota
LA's Dead Zone (In)Action Plan
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 14:36

DeadZonePollutionActionAlert smallerNitrogen and phosphorus pollution is still a major problem throughout the area that drains into the Mississippi River and the Gulf - causing harmful algae blooms, fish kills, and the Dead Zone. In order to combat this pollution, the Mississippi River states all agreed to develop “Reduction Plans.” Unfortunately, Louisiana’s officials have drafted a long document that doesn’t say much new, and does even less to reduce Dead Zone-causing pollution. Click below to tell state officials to come up with a real plan to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution:

The state’s so-called “plan” has little information about how to implement new reductions, and ignores some of EPA's recommendations. Plus, it doesn’t include science-based numeric goals and timelines for reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. If we don’t even have specific goals for reducing the pollution, how do we measure if efforts are effective?  

Read more: LA's Dead Zone (In)Action Plan
Steve Murchie
Dirty Energy on the Gulf Coast
Thursday, 23 January 2014 15:59

This articles was excerpted from Gulf Currents, GRN's quarterly newsletter. To read the rest of the December 2013 edition of Gulf Currents, click here.

OilOnGrandIsle2Oil on Grande Isle, LA following Tropical Storm Karen, October 8th, 2013. Photo Credit: Jonathan Henderson, GRN.As a region and a country, we are dependent on fossil fuels for energy and have been for generations. However, we do not have to look any further than our beaches and marshes to be reminded of the consequences of dirty energy. BP’s ads would have us believe that the Gulf is fine now, but the truth is that BP’s disaster continues to impact our communities and wildlife every day. 

It’s not just BP, though. Tar sands investors hope to pipe their product across America to Gulf refineries and ports and then overseas to market, opening our communities to the threatof spills. Faced with opposition to coal terminals and trains in other regions of the country, the coal industry is increasingly shifting to the Gulf region as a hub for exporting this dirty fuel to China and beyond.

Coastal Louisiana is disappearing, and oil and gas production is part of the problem. The industry directly dredges through wetlands, sinks marshes by extracting fluid from underneath the earth, and allows saltwater from the Gulf into places where salt degrades marsh plants. And the burning of that oil, gas and coal over decades is what is to blame for today’s global warming, and the subsequent sea level rise that is drowning our wetlands.

Read more: Dirty Energy on the Gulf Coast
Cathy Harrelson
Drilling for Florida Oil
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 11:55

Florida Panther at Big Cypress Reserve - photo Ralph Arwood Flickr An endangered Florida Panther in Big Cypress National Preserve, which is the site of some of the proposed drilling activities. Photo credit: Ralph Arwood/NPS. As we guard our coastlines against drilling, Texas oil companies are quietly drilling for oil in our backyards. In fact, oil drilling in Florida’s Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve has been going on since the 1930’s. However, recent permits issued in Collier County, east of Naples, represent a new threat. These operations involve drilling for oil at depths up to 25,000 feet using a mix of chemicals the state wants to exempt from disclosure. The waste chemicals resulting from oil drilling include Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene (BTEX). These carcinogenic BTEX chemicals endanger our aquifer and people’s lives. In addition to chemical injection, the use of salt water threatens intrusion into the Naples wellfield – the drinking water supply for thousands. 

Although not ‘fracking’ as we typically consider it, Florida Acid Fracking involves injecting massive quantities of fresh water, toxic chemicals and even salt water into the limestone below our aquifer – dissolving it to free up dirty fossil fuels. Thirty percent of these injection fluids are not returned to the surface. This stew of acid fracking chemicals is injected into an aqueous layer below the Floridan Aquifer called the “Boulder Zone.” This zone is so named because its cavernous spaces are the size of boulders. This salty, aqueous layer doesn’t prevent the upward migration of lighter-than-water chemicals into our groundwater aquifer. And, because the salinity and temperature of the Boulder Zone is similar to that of modern seawater, it is thought to be connected to the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean.

Read more: Drilling for Florida Oil
Scott Eustis
Kites show Spills, Sand, and our Shifting Landscape
Friday, 10 January 2014 15:10

 The wind is a constant factor in coastal life, but how often can we harvest it for science?

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science has aided GRN and others with low-cost aerial monitoring of pollution, but their tools and method can also be used to map the shifting sands beneath our feet.

Read more at their website, follow the link below to view and annotate the map made by Matt Prendergast, Julia Lightner, and myself.

If you'd like to learn more, come out to Loyola tomorrow, as Dredgefest explores Louisiana's relationship with the natural and built environment through technology that moves dirt.

Symposium Saturday, January 11-Sunday, January 12 in New Orleans, Loyola University

Intensive Workshops Monday, January 13-Thursday, January 16 in Baton Rouge

A Tour of Dredge Landscapes Friday, January 17 leaving from Spanish Fort at Lake Pontchartrain

 Read more about the most recent map, below.


Read more: Kites show Spills, Sand, and our Shifting Landscape
Scott Eustis
We Knew the Dolphins Were Sick
Friday, 10 January 2014 14:53
The more we know, the worse it seems. And the stranger our memories become.  BP must be held accountable for their damages.
We knew it was bad.  As we surveyed Barataria Bay, one of the most heavily impacted areas by BP, we at GRN saw stranded and dead dolphins throughout 2010 and 2011.  
Response data --open to the public until October 2010 -- have shown that dolphins have washed up in many locations across the Gulf, and many in Barataria.
The mortality event that began in 2010 has claimed more than 900 bottlenose dolphins to date, and many more lost beneath the waters, never to wash ashore. 
But more than three years after BP's well was capped, NOAA is now able to release a dolphin health study showing that one in five Barataria dolphins in 2011 was close to death. This study was on live dolphins captured and examined for sub-lethal impacts--were the dolphins we saw swimming by our boats all that time ok?  We knew they weren't, but we hoped.
Now that hope has been outlined by odds ratios.
Read more: We Knew the Dolphins Were Sick
Andrew Whitehurst
Mississippi Business and Legislative News from MEC's Capital Day
Friday, 10 January 2014 10:37

MEC January 2014 MEC Capital Day gathering at the Jackson Marriot January 8, 2014The Mississippi Economic Council is the statewide chamber of commerce. It held its Capital Day on January 8th in Jackson. Business leaders and elected officials presented to a room full of the movers and shakers in the state’s business community. Governor Bryant’s presentation touted Mississippi’s business climate. Citing the trade publication Area Development Magazine (2012), Bryant said that the state is number 2 nationally for competitive utility costs and permitting speed, and second in the world for oil and gas investment according to Fraser Institute (2012). From my perspective of having served on the MDEQ Permit Board, and watched it operate for the past 10 years, it is no surprise that permits are granted quickly in Mississippi. In the case of the MDEQ Permit Board, the Governor appoints two of the members and the rest of them work for agencies in the executive branch. If the Board had a motto it would be “the Governor gets what the Governor wants.” He wants jobs. Clean water, air and land are not as important as jobs in Mississippi – that will remain true no matter who is Governor.

Read more: Mississippi Business and Legislative News from MEC's Capital Day
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BP's Oil Drilling Disaster - Take Action

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