Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 3:58pm
Birds on grand isle beach

Five years since the beginning of the BP drilling disaster, BP’s oil is still in the Gulf and still impacting the region’s people and environment. Despite some offshore drilling reforms, the Gulf continues to suffer from the impacts of the oil and gas industry and is vulnerable to future major drilling disasters. Restoration efforts have begun, but too little has been done to make sure the communities most impacted by this disaster have a place at the table.

BP’s Impacts: Recent studies have raised serious questions about the long-term health of the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP drilling disaster. Sick and dead dolphins continue to wash up in the BP impact zone. A February 2015 study suggests a link between a three year pattern in dolphin deaths and the BP disaster. Other recent studies have found a 10 million gallon “bath mat” of oil...

Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:30pm
Winner of the Indiviual Costume Trophy!

We were a little nervous about hosting the hunt on Good Friday, but holy easter eggs were we impressed! Over 480 people joined the event - more than any year before - and raised over $8,500 for GRN's work in the Gulf! A big thanks to Publiq House and especially NOLA Brewing for making such a great day possible!

The hunt began at NOLA Brewing's Tap Room, where we sent the crowd off with the first clue at 2:30. The teams found their way through the Garden District, along St Charles and into Uptown. Some people were stumped along the way, but found the trail to Publiq House where hot crawfish and free beer awaited.

The Quickening got the party started, followed by The Colin Lake Band who rocked us through the evening. Teams like the Easter Baskets, Bad Eggs, and the Carrot Hare'm came up with crazy...

Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 11:22am

When the news broke on another tanker allision and spill on the Mississippi River 4pm Monday, we at GRN thought it was worth keeping an eye on. After an after-hours bike ride to the berth of the Creole Queen near Spanish Plaza presented me with a tar smell, probably from crude oil that had escaped the Bravo and had been swiftly sped into the Gulf past New Orleans on a high Mississippi River, we decided to follow up on the scene.

GRN, for the Gulf Monitoring Consortium, had quickly identified the Bravo as the 816 foot tanker near Convent, using the live Marine tracker, and found its location, moored and not under command, near Freetown St, St James Parish. RiverKeeper confirmed the vessel. We used online maps to find an accessible, public batture area where we could view any oil that might remain downstream from the Bravo on...

Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 8:18am
Pearl River Jackson Mississippi Endangered River Nomination
Press Conference on Banks of Pearl River in Lefleur's Bluff State Park Jackson Mississippi

On April 7th the Pearl River in Louisiana and Mississippi was named to American Rivers’ list of the ten Most Endangered Rivers in the United States because of plans to create another dam and lake on the river in Jackson, Mississippi.  A two-county drainage District has submitted a feasibility study and Environmental Impact Statement for the lake project to the Vicksburg Corps of Engineers District. The lake is the District’s preferred alternative for flood control. Because of the threat that comes from this project and because the Corps’ approval or disapproval will happen in 2015, Gulf Restoration Network and the Jackson Audubon Chapter nominated the river to the Most Endangered Rivers list with the support of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.

 All three groups were represented on April 7th when simultaneous press conferences were held on the banks of the Pearl River in both Mississippi and Louisiana. We convened in...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 3:55pm

We're proud to welcome Shona Clarkson as the newest member of Gulf Restoration Network's! Shona was kind enough to share a little bit about herself below: 

As a long time participant in the environmental justice movement, I am excited to begin my work as Development and Communications Coordinator with Gulf Restoration Network. It is a joy to join this vibrant team and to begin working to transform, protect and restore the Gulf.

Originally from St. Louis, MO, I have a fierce love for the Mississippi River and a deep respect for the people (and cuisine) of all her river cities. Before coming to GRN, I worked as a community organizer around issues of food justice, immigration, labor and racial justice. I have a degree in Latin America Studies and Anthropology from the University of Kansas and hold a Professional Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems...

Friday, April 3, 2015 - 11:05am

strengthen dispersant protectionsAfter hearing from thousands of people like you, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving forward on new reforms for the use of toxic dispersants when responding to oil spills. Thanks to everyone who took action!

Now, we need to make sure that the EPA adopts the strongest possible protections. Can you take a moment to tell the EPA to adopt strong rules that will protect our health and the health of the environment?

Almost 2 million gallons of dispersants were released into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP drilling disaster despite widespread recognition that little was known about the health and environmental effects of applying such massive quantities of these chemicals. The debacle of that emergency response highlighted the pressing need for a new rule on dispersants.

EPA's proposed reforms require more rigorous science and safety information when evaluating the use...

Thursday, April 2, 2015 - 10:49am
Lido Key
Lido Key in Sarasota Bay. Photo: Steve Murchie.

When I joined GRN nearly two years ago, the dolphins of the northern Gulf were already 41 months into what National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls an “Unusual Mortality Event” in a classic government euphemism.  Dolphins, a top predator, were dying in alarming numbers. While the UME began before the BP drilling disaster, the millions of gallons of oil and toxic chemical dispersants clearly were having an impact on one of the Gulf’s iconic species, one that reflects the health of the entire ecosystem. So the Gulf was in trouble before a reckless oil company killed workers and caused the worst manmade environmental disaster in U.S. history. And today, even though the presiding judge has ruled that BP was in fact reckless and guilty of gross negligence, those dolphins are still dying.  

So I still feel the same urgency to hold BP accountable as I did when the well...

Sunday, March 29, 2015 - 11:25am
Jackson For A Healthy Gulf Event Pearl River Gulf Restoration Network
Andrew reviews GRN water policy victories for the past year for the audience at Hal and Mal's Patio Room

Gulf Restoration Network held its fourth annual “Jackson for A Healthy Gulf” event at Hal and Mal’s Restaurant in the Capitol City last Thursday night. Despite a cold front moving through Jackson, with rain and bad traffic near party time, twenty-five people attended to hear about GRN’s Mississippi work over the last year. I summarized legal victories on two of GRN’s issues: the appeal of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) Oil and Gas Leasing and Exploration Rules, and the settlement of GRN’s Hattiesburg Leaf River sewer lagoon lawsuit. I also explained that in 2014, for the first time in years, contrary to normal practice, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Permit Board was responsive to GRN’s comments requesting additional monitoring for fecal coliform bacteria on a Kemper Power Plant water discharge permit. MDEQ usually requires a formal appeal to consider any permit modifications.

In June we expect that...

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...