Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Saturday, March 28, 2015 - 4:41pm
Slidell Public Meeting Crowd Hears Board Attorney for Jackson, Ms. Flood Control District Talk About Lake Project

The St. Tammany Parish Council hosted the 2015 Pearl River Basin Watershed Conference in their chambers in Mandeville on March 17th. This was a meeting led by the Louisiana and Mississippi offices of the National Weather Service (NWS). There were very good presentations and discussions of Pearl River flood forecasting and emergency management operations between the two state NWS offices and the other agencies responsible for flood management. Handling Pearl River floods was the centerpiece of the conference, but presentations were also given by United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Vicksburg District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Naval Oceanography at Stennis Space Center, and the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District – the agency responsible for Ross Barnett Dam operations on the Pearl River north of Jackson.

The meeting revealed some very...

Friday, March 20, 2015 - 3:52pm
stormy seas cover

This guest blog was written by Christina Carlson, Policy Research Assistant with the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

Ten miles outside New Orleans stands a two-million barrels per day oil refinery, surrounded by community streets in Meraux, Louisiana. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the Meraux oil refinery flooded. Damaged tanks spilled 25,000 barrels of oil, covering over a square mile of neighborhood and contaminating city canals and 1,700 homes. Then refinery-owner Murphy Oil paid $330 million to settle 6,200 claims, buy contaminated property, and perform cleanups.

Following the incident, Murphy Oil disclosed to its investors that the refinery faced climate-related risks: “The physical impacts of climate change present potential risks for severe weather (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) at our Meraux…refinery,” the company wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  But Valero Energy Corporation acquired the refinery from Murphy Oil in 2011, and Valero has yet to...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 11:19am
Oil on the beach

Check out this tongue-in-cheek guest blog from our friends at Ocean Conservancy on BP's latest PR efforts to minimize their impacts on the Gulf. Read Gulf Restoration Network's reaction to BP's report here

Ocean Conservancy prides itself on contributing to thoughtful, science-based restoration approaches in the Gulf as we work toward returning the region to its rightful place as a natural treasure and economic engine for the entire country.

But, everyone’s patience gets tested from time to time. After seeing the latest “report” from BP, we’ve had enough of reacting thoughtfully to BP’s continued PR efforts to discredit the scientists and environmental groups working to restore the Gulf and honor the lives and livelihoods lost in this disaster. Below, we have provided a spin-free translation of the introductory letter to BP’s latest effort to convince you that they are the victims of...

Monday, March 16, 2015 - 4:25pm
Enjoying the view

The Mississippi Boat Party was a beautiful sunset cruise.  Guests from New Orleans to Ocean Springs (and one from Ottawa) enjoyed wine, beer, cocktails and the company of fellow environmental enthusiasts as they boarded historic “Captain Pete.” We set sail from Gulfport Yacht Harbor to dolphins jumping in the surf and brown pelicans fishing.  Andrew Whitehurst, GRN’s Water Program Director, spoke on local work we are doing protecting the Pearl River. 
Dinner was provided by Bayview Gourmet, Tony’s Pizzeria, and Coastline Caribbean. Art, jewelry, and Pilates classes were raffled off to lucky winners. Thanks to everyone who attended for making this year’s boat party an even bigger success than last year's and helping us continue the work we do restoring the coast. More pictures from the event below!

Megan Grusenmeyer...

Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 2:46pm
Bill Stowe of DMWW on the Raccoon river
Bill Stowe, CEO of the Des Moines Water Works, on the Raccoon River. Courtesy Iowa Environmental Council

Big Dead Zone news out of Iowa. The Des Moines Water Works has decided to move forward with a lawsuit against three Iowa Counties for the pollution they are dumping into Des Moines’ drinking water. This is the same pollution that causes the Gulf Dead Zone. Here is a statement from the Mississippi River Collaborative:

Tuesday’s unanimous decision by the Board of the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) to sue three rural counties upstream of the city’s drinking water intake system should be echoing throughout the halls of the US EPA’s Office of Water.

In the lawsuit, DMWW accuses the heavily agricultural upstream counties of violating the Clean Water Act by failing to obtain permits to limit nitrate pollution from their drainage systems. It further states that these violations have caused elevated, potentially dangerous levels of nitrates in the water which DMWW must treat –...

Monday, March 9, 2015 - 11:00am
Oil and gas canals in Jefferson Parish.
Oil and gas canals in Jefferson Parish.

On February 13, a federal judge threw out the lawsuit the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East (SLFPA) brought against 90 oil and gas companies, ruling the SLFPA does not have the right to bring suit against them, and had failed to make a valid claim under law. Luckily, the fight is not over. The SLFPA has decided to appeal the judge’s ruling to the U.S. 5th Court of Appeals.

The suit is meant to hold the industry accountable for decades of drilling and dredging, which helped destroy the coastal marshes that shield the region from floods. The SLFPA wants the oil and gas companies to either fix the wetlands, or pay to have them restored and/or strengthen levees. Holding these companies accountable for their failure to restore the wetlands they’ve impacted is crucial to our protection from hurricanes. Ultimately, if the oil and gas industry doesn’t...

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 11:06am

As part of WTUL's Voices from the Gulf series with Gulf Future, several pieces were produced from the Gulf Future Salons in 2014.  As we near the memorial of the 5th year in our new, lesser Gulf of Mexico, we reflect on the events of 2010.  

Want to hear more, Want to tell your story?  Stay tuned to, and social media.

Captain Louis Skrmetta  speaks to how he became an advocate for a clean Gulf.
"I had to first of all explain to my family that this is a bad deal that we shouldn’t be doing this, we should be committed to keeping our bilges clean, putting containers under the engines so that the oil in the bilge won’t go into the water.”

Monique Verdin of My Louisiana Love speaks about the time she first saw the...

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 8:36am

city park fisherman by justin shaw
City Park Fisherman by James Shaw

Recently, a miles-long chain-link fence was erected around the wild northern portion of City Park, earmarked for development as golf course by a closed decision making process. There are many reasons why this golf course is a bad choice for the region: ecology, hydrology, financial sustainability, countervailing recreational trends - but I would like to highlight an underappreciated aspect of the choice: public access. Parks in contemporary urban life are the closest thing we have to a shared resource. Like ‘commons’ of yore, they provide an undefined space for collective activity that has no equal, held in trust by the public, for the public. And by ‘public’ I do not mean strictly homo sapiens, but all flora and fauna.


by Elaine Leyda

A massive fence...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - 11:55am

Don't Let Oil and Gas Delay on DispersantsFour and a half years. That's how long it's been since Gulf Restoration Network, our partners and the public called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do a better job overseeing the use of dispersants. The EPA has finally heard our calls, recently releasing a proposal to strengthen the testing of dispersants before they can be used to respond to oil spills. However, the oil and gas industry is stalling for time by asking for a three month extension of the comment period for this proposal. Further delay means a greater risk to the communities and environments of the Gulf and the nation – tell the EPA to not let oil and gas delay on dispersants.

The BP drilling disaster made it tragically clear that federal rules overseeing the use of chemical dispersants are...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 2:50pm
Sperm Whales
Sperm Whales in the Gulf, August, 2011

Over 600 scientists met last week at the 2015 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in Houston, Texas. Presented studies examine the effects of the BP drilling disaster, several showing a vast area on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico where marine life is sparser than it was before toxic “oil snow” settled there almost five years ago. Two specific studies supporting this conclusion are Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State University's research of sperm whales in the Gulf from 2010-2013, and the U.S. Geological Survey's look at fish on oil-stained reefs in 2010 and 2011. In a 1,500 square-mile-area around the site of the Deepwater Horizon rig, researchers found sperm whales that once routinely gathered to feed on squid and other organisms are now avoiding the area, indicating that there are no longer any viable food options. Fish populations on the Alabama...