Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Steve Murchie
Oil Washes over the Louisiana Senate
Thursday, 08 May 2014 11:07

wetlands photo for steves blog Aerial view of St. Bernard Parish, LA shows the extensive damage to coastal wetlands caused by oil and gas activities. April 11, 2014. Photo: GRN. The oil and gas industry's campaign to avoid repairing Louisiana's coastal wetlands passed through the state Senate May 7 by a vote of 24-15. Senators Allain and Adley led the charge on behalf of the industry in a blatant attempt to retroactively block the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies. Senator J.P. Morrell and many others stood up for Louisiana residents and the flood authority's independence (See below to find out how your Senator voted.).

Oil and gas activities in Louisiana's sensitive coastal wetlands are responsible for at least 250,000 acres of land lost. The state's coastal restoration master plan is expected to cost upwards of $50 billion, but the industry is not currently contributing financially in any significant way, nor are they repairing the damage they have caused. In many cases, government regulators are also failing to enforce permits which require restoration.

We still can win this fight, but need to hold on in the House. Call or email your state legislators today. Thank your Senator if they did the right thing, and if they did not then let them know how you feel. Even more importantly, call your Representative, and tell them to stand up for Louisiana residents, not the oil and gas industry. 

Read more: Oil Washes over the Louisiana Senate
Cathy Harrelson
Join Hands against dirty fuel
Thursday, 08 May 2014 10:29

hands saint pete Joining Hands in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2012. From Alaska to Florida, from Pakistan to Kenya, thousands of people will join hands at noon on Saturday, May 17, for the fifth annual “Hands Across the Sand and Land” event. Come to your local Hands event to call for clean and renewable energy and to say “no” to dirty fossil fuel projects that endanger our local communities. In joining Hands Across the Sand and Land, we show unified support for clean energy at a moment when dirty fuel proposals are proliferating even as the effects of the BP drilling disaster linger in the Gulf of Mexico.

Across the country, communities are facing threats from coastal and offshore drilling, seismic blasting, pipelines, tar sands mining, transporting crude by rail, hydraulic fracturing, LNG export terminals and mountain top removal. In addition to damaging our water, air and wildlife; these projects also threaten to worsen climate change, which is already leading to rising sea levels, drought, forest fires, ocean acidification, crop loss, flooding, and increased storm intensity. Since its inception, Hands has gathered a large coalition of local, regional and national organizations. This year, Hands is expanding its messaging to include a strong opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. The bottom line remains the same: keep dirty fuels in the ground and build a clean, renewable energy future now.

Read more: Join Hands against dirty fuel
Cathy Harrelson
Florida water – still down and still dirty
Thursday, 08 May 2014 09:58

Florida spring dive - from Florida State Parks photo credit Gene Page Florida spring dive. Photo courtesy of Florida State Parks/Gene Page.The Florida legislative session ended last Friday without passage of the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act. In spite of strong organizing by citizens and environmental groups, and unanimous support in the Senate, even the watered down version from Agricultural, industrial and Florida Chamber of Commerce interests failed to move forward in the Florida House. Although the legislation would have provided the water protection that Florida desperately needs today, outgoing House Speaker Will Weatherford decided to punt it to next year’s session and into the lap of incoming House Speaker, Steve Crisafulli. As Estus Whitfield, environmental advisor to Governors Graham, Martinez, Chiles and Bush quips in his column in the Tampa Bay Times, “Just be glad the Legislature doesn’t control your local fire department or you might be told that your burning house can’t be saved because the next shift really wants to fight the fire.”

Read more: Florida water – still down and still dirty
Sarah Holtz
Looking back on Earth Month 2014
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 15:39

kids earth day As we turn our calendars from April to May, we conclude our annual Earth Month partnership with Aveda salons. Every year during the month of April, Aveda salons and institutes demonstrate their laudable environmental stewardship and commitment to sustainability by raising money for clean water and awareness about water pollution issues. We were honored to be included in their campaign for the ninth year in a row.

blue bottle dress sm Earth Month 2014 was marked by a variety of creative fundraising and events, from the Aveda Institutes’ Catwalk for Water fashion shows, to a Painting with a Purpose benefit, to the Global Cut-a-thon, a unified day of marathon haircuts. Aveda’s efforts to protect and celebrate the importance of clean water is indispensable to GRN’s work in the Gulf region, as we continue to face environmental threats from polluters, developers, and the ongoing ecological and community impacts of the BP disaster. We extend our deepest gratitude to Aveda for their commitment to our cause. We’re currently celebrating our 20th year as an organization, and Earth Month is a meaningful reminder of the many reasons why we work to protect and restore the Gulf.

Sarah Holtz is GRN's Development Associate.

Scott Eustis
Why Frack Our Cleanest Water and Wetlands?
Friday, 02 May 2014 15:06

Why Frack Our Cleanest Water and Wetlands?

Helis Oil and Gas and Ed Poitevent want to make a buck off the waters of St Tammany Parish, without environmental review, without regard to the effects of the Southern Hills aquifer, without care for Cane Bayou and Bayou LaCombe nor the wildlife that depend on St Tammany's coastal forest, or the people they will be polluting.


Tell the Army Corps and DEQ not to frack our wetlands.

We are given little to no information to comment on impacts to a lease agreement that impacts 11% of the land area of the entire parish. 

By drilling companies' own admission, putting wastewater pits in a floodplain is a practice that made Golden Meadow into a shallow bay. This unscrupulous practice is what destroyed much of Plaquemines and Jefferson Parish, so why is it even considered for St Tammany, the last parish in Louisiana not run through with oil and gas wells?  The fact that these factors are not even considered by the applicant are reason alone to deny this 10 acre permit to destroy vital coastal forest and the water quality of Cane Bayou and  Bayou Lacombe. 

How can DEQ and the Corps completely change the economic development direction of an entire parish without thorough environmental review? 

The Corps and DEQ cannot sign off on a permit that the Parish itself objects to. All other permits must be in place before the Army Corps decides to move forward with such an earthshaking proposal.

St Tammany's coastal forests are home to endangered species like the Louisiana Black Bear, and the Dusky Gopher Frog. St Tammany parish is home to more endangered species than any other parish in the state. Our federal agents need to hear from you, if you yourself have hunted and fished these waters and seen endangered species that, in some cases, only exist in St Tammany parish.

image: all oil wells drilling in Louisiana.  St Tammany is just about the last place left without oil and gas wells

st tammany, the last place left

Read more: Why Frack Our Cleanest Water and Wetlands?
Matt Rota
Report Shows Minnesota Not Protecting Agricultural Streams
Thursday, 01 May 2014 09:07

MN and Miss river confluence-2013-NAIPA heavy load of sediment makes the Minnesota River look paler where it joins the cleaner Mississippi River in the Twin Cities. (2013, NAIP)In a new report released by the Environmental Working Group, entitled Broken Stream Banks, it is evident that Minnesota is not doing enough to protect their rural streams from pollution, including nitrogen and phosphorus pollution that flows all the way down to the Gulf to form the Dead Zone.  

According to the EWG report,

Minnesota is a national leader in recognizing the importance of these buffers in combatting agricultural pollution. The state’s Shoreland Management Act confers legal protection of riparian buffers between most waterways and farmland. Like any other law, however, it must be enforced to be effective.

By using aerial photography, GIS computer systems, and on-the-ground observations, they found that only 18% of streams in their study area had the buffers required by Minnesota State law.

Read more: Report Shows Minnesota Not Protecting Agricultural Streams
Cathy Harrelson
Florida's Springs Can't Wait
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 13:24

FLSpringsActionAlertFlorida's springs are under siege. Ask Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford to support springs restoration today!

Florida is home to over 1000 springs – more than any other state. These bowls of liquid light are world class jewels in Florida's crown that provide natural, recreational and economic values; but they are in danger. Florida's springs are threatened by fertilizer and sewage run-off, and they won't receive the protection they need without your help.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Florida Senate has created legislation to begin serious springs protection. SB 1576, the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act, would fund projects to treat sewage, limit fertilizer use, address home septic systems and set up protection zones around springs. It has moved through Senate committees with majority support. But the House version, HB 1313, is stalled!

House speaker Will Weatherford believes that we can wait until next year to protect our springs. Please tell him that our water can't wait!

Join us in calling on House Speaker Weatherford to support funding and policy for springs protection. We've already waited too long for water protection – the time is now.

Cathy Harrelson is GRN's Florida Organizer. 

Jayeesha Dutta
Inspiring Visions for the Gulf's Future
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 09:03

I know I’m just one person, but I really think that together we can really do something important and be a model for the future of the Gulf."

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 11.15.52 PMThis visionary sentiment expressed by a participant at one of the Salons hosted by the Gulf Future Coalition sums our hopes for our collective work quite beautifully. In fact, the Dalai Lama's quote "if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito" is a central theme in our partners' Cry You One performance.

We creatively engaged over 200 people with our newest Coalition partners for a series of "Community Visioning Salons" across the 5 Gulf Coast states in Biloxi, MS; Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; Pensacola, FL and Orange Beach, AL during the 5 weeks leading up to the Coalition's annual Gulf Gathering in Weeks Bay, AL just last week.

Read more: Inspiring Visions for the Gulf's Future
Natasha Noordhoff
Kicking it with the Easter Keg
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:09

Wow. We had the best Saturday with NOLA Brewing for our 6th annual Easter Keg Hunt.

The hunt began at NOLA Brewing's Tap Room, and folks were dressed to impress! The guests at the last supper, bunny rangers, and jelly beans were among the honorable mentions. NOLA Brewing's Kirk Coco sent the crowd off with the first clue, leading people on a 3.7 mile search through the Lower Garden District, the Irish Channel, and ending at the Warehouse Grille. The Breton Sound started off the party with an amazing set including a killer "Ignition Remix" cover. I got my first taste of NOLA's new Rebirth Pale Ale (that supports The Roots of Music) and kept drinking that brew all afternoon. Gravy Flavored Kisses rounded out the evening with a funk brass vibe that got people dancing! For more photos, check out our Facebook album.

Now for the awards:

The best individual costume went to .... Sunday's Best
Sunday Best sm  












Read more: Kicking it with the Easter Keg
Steve Murchie
Hey BP: Come Clean!
Friday, 18 April 2014 12:41

TellBPComeCleanActionAlertOn Sunday, April 20th, the nation marked four years since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf, resulting in the release of over 200 million gallons of oil and use of almost 2 million gallons of toxic dispersants. BP is mounting a massive PR effort to declare “Mission Accomplished” in the wake of the disaster, but their spin doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

Don’t let BP spin their way out of paying for their damage to the coast! Tell BP to take responsibility.

BP America’s President John Mingé declared this week that “[n]o company has done more to help a region recover.” We beg to differ. As BP spends millions on ads and PR to downplay their damage, the residents of coastal communities and scientists that study the Gulf are painting a much different picture.

Tarballs continue to wash up on our beaches and coastlines. New studies are linking BP’s oil to heart defects in tuna and amberjack. In Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, which was heavily oiled, scientists have found that dolphins are showing signs of severe illness consistent with exposure to oil. Just last week Gulf Restoration Network discovered tarballs and a dead dolphin along the shores of Barataria Bay and Grand Isle.

Tell BP America President John Mingé that BP must pay to restore the Gulf!

Read more: Hey BP: Come Clean!
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