Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 10:58am

Tell BP to Make It RightThe third phase of the BP drilling disaster civil trial resumed yesterday, and we need your help telling BP to make things right – click here to take action.

The results of this trial will ultimately determine how many billions of dollars in Clean Water Act civil fines BP must pay. Under the RESTORE Act, 80% of these fines will come back to the Gulf for restoration, so there is a lot at stake for the Gulf’s communities and environment.

In September of 2014, the court determined that BP’s conduct leading to the drilling disaster was “reckless,” and BP was guilty of willful misconduct and gross negligence. Despite this ruling, BP continues to cynically downplay its responsibility for the catastrophe, and is fighting in the courts to avoid making things right. BP has even said that the...

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 12:11pm
A wetland cut in North Carolina to supply hardwoods for wood pellets to be burnt for electricity in Europe. Could Gulf wetlands be next?

From the cypress swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin to “America’s Amazon” in Alabama, the forests and wetlands of the Gulf South states are home to incredible populations of wildlife, provide recreational opportunities from hunting and fishing to kayaking and camping, filter our water and prevent floods, and generally grace us with the beauty of nature.

Unfortunately, these special places throughout the region are under threat from the expanding biomass industry that is currently targeting Southern forests at a rate that is impossible for these forests to sustain. Our beautiful forests, including many wetland forests and bottomland hardwoods, are being clear-cut, processed into pellets, and then shipped to Europe to be burned for electricity under the guise of “clean energy”. 

This may sound eerily familiar to long-time followers of Gulf Restoration Network. In the years following Hurricane Katrina, GRN worked with partners throughout the Gulf to ...

Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 1:46pm
Tar ball on Grand Isle
GRN's Jonathan Henderson holding tar balls discovered in Grand Isle, LA. January 12, 2015.

Update - 1/16/15: Just a couple of hours after posting this blog, some big news broke on the BP trial. Judge Barbier issued his ruling on Phase 2 of the trial, which concluded back in October 2013 and was focused on the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf and the response and recovery to the disaster. The Judge ruled that BP released 134 million gallons of oil during the disaster (higher than what BP's lawyers had argued, and less than what the government's lawyers contended), and that BP was not grossly negligent in its response to the disaster. 

As mentioned below, Judge Barbier has already found BP grossly negligent for their actions leading to the blowout. This new ruling that BP was not guilty of gross negligence in their response to the disaster is essentially saying that BP is no different than others in the industry. The fact that no one...

Friday, January 9, 2015 - 4:32pm
Gopher Tortoise hatchling, FWC via flickrIt's baaack!  
With the help of WTUL 91.5fm, GRN is getting the word out about the resurrection of the Washington Parish Dam. Listen as I talk to WTUL's Janet Hays about this waste of taxpayer money. Since 2001, this project has come back from the dead, again and again, to haunt Northshore residents. Each time, the purpose of the dam changes, from water extraction to water conservation, to real estate and 'development opportunities.' Will Louisiana taxpayers now be forced to foot the bill to displace Washington Parish residents and to create a cheap source of water for hydrofracking?
This Dam will destroy 1000 acres of wetland forest, habitat for the Gopher Tortoise, flood out residents, as well as force the relocation of at least 9 historic cemeteries from Washington Parish. Washington Parish residents have fought the proposal since 2001....
Thursday, January 8, 2015 - 1:51pm
Andrea DeClouet and Pat Bertucci in Ironton, LA.

Together, we can win. In a precedent setting decision, a state judge overturned a permit for the RAM coal export terminal. 

The proposed RAM coal export terminal in Plaquemines Parish would interfere with one of Louisiana’s major coastal restoration projects (the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion) and start mile-long, uncovered coal trains running through Gretna, Belle Chasse and the West Bank. This victory stops the RAM coal export terminal in its tracks. People for the coast prevailed - what a great way to start the year!

GRN and Sierra Club, with our partners in the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition and community leaders, led a robust grassroots campaign that fought this proposed terminal.

Thank you for signing petitions, putting up yard signs, speaking to elected officials, participating in meetings, recruiting friends, family and neighbors, spreading the word, and donating to support the monitoring and organizing it takes to keep move this forward. Your engagement...

Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 1:35pm
Tar Ball Barataria Bay April 2014
GRN's Jonathan Henderson holding tar balls discovered on the beach in Grand Isle, LA, April 2014.

It has been over 4 years since the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico occurred and a recent report issued by Auburn University reveals oil, in the form of tar balls, is still being found on Alabama's beaches.  This report shows what locals, walking along the beach, have known all along. They've been noticing the tar is still in the sand on their beaches. One woman remarked on the strong petroleum odor emitted when one of the tar balls was broken apart.

According to a WKRG in Mobile, the Auburn University researchers state one of the reasons tar balls are still being found on the beach is because the oil is buried in the sand and takes longer to degrade. BP was quick to contradict the scientists' findings and, as usual, downplay the severity of the situation, sending a statement to the news outlet proclaiming the...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 6:32pm
Fracking in the Louisiana Haynesville Shale Region

High-volume hydraulic fracturing (or simply, ‘fracking’) is characterized by the pressurized injection of unique water-chemical mixtures thousands of feet below our planet’s surface. This forced insertion enlarges cracked geologic formations, releasing trapped hydrocarbons like natural gas and petroleum for collection. Although some champion fracking as a futuristic means of energy recovery, others see it as a shortsighted practice that carries great risks to our society’s collective health.

As of today, New York State will officially be ‘frack-free.’

The state’s Acting Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, announced this formal prohibition alongside the publication of his department’s comprehensive public health review of the contentious practice. In the months leading up to its release, much speculation and anticipation had built around the study’s potential contents.

For those unaware of New York’s political picture, Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken quite an unremarkable stance on the fracking issue while in office. His predecessor...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 2:18pm
Scenic Amite River, Scott Eustis GRN c/o
Last week, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries denied a permit for Comstock Resources, Inc, to withdraw fracking water from the Amite River. Scenic Rivers are Outstanding Natural Resource Waters of Louisiana, and cannot be degraded; their ecological values must be kept alive. These are our sacred rivers, whose wilderness values must remain unaltered, so that Louisiana's ecological and aesthetic heritage is preserved for future generations.
Despite that, Comstock and Goodrich sought to take them from us.  But because of your actions, Louisiana has stood up to protect our Scenic Rivers, and six extraction permits have been withdrawn or denied! Thanks to the Department, we can keep the Amite in the Amite, and the Tickfaw in the Tickfaw. Over 60 million gallons of water will not be turned into hazardous waste--it will flow, and provide habitat and life for Louisiana.
You can read the Joint formal comment...
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 1:43pm

Hurricane season may be over, but massive flooding is threatening Washington Parish. This time, there is no storm to blame—it’s powerful interests who want to build a lake, drowning our forests, historical landmarks and rivers.

Take action today and say no to this “fake lake.”

For a decade, Louisiana residents have been resisting this lake, which would involve damming the Boga Lusa Creek, because of the impacts it would have on forests and cemeteries in the lake’s footprint, and surrounding homes.  In fact, this project would flood over a thousand acres of forest - threatening wildlife like the Louisiana black bear and Gulf  sturgeon.

Last time a version of this lake and dam was proposed, residents and committed state and federal agencies were able to stop the project from moving forward. Now is the time add your voice to those determined to preserve the paradise we...

Monday, December 15, 2014 - 2:29pm
Photo: GRN

Just in time to celebrate the end of our 20th year as an environmental advocacy group in the Gulf, here’s the final installment of our four-part 20 Victories for 20 Years series. Over the past three years, we’ve had several major successes in our campaigns to combat environmentally destructive development, protect wildlife and coastal communities, and ensure that state and federal funding is directed to effective coastal restoration in the Gulf. Read on to learn more...

#16: Protecting and Rebuilding Mississippi’s Wetlands
After being contracted by a local resident whose home had started flooding regularly, GRN investigated the “Town of Stennis” development, and realized that the developers had filled in hundreds of acres of wetlands without a permit. GRN filed a lawsuit over this illegal filling of wetlands and obtained a settlement that transferred over 200 acres of land to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain for...