Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Anna Dvorak
Reflections on Power Shift 2013
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 15:33

powershift1 I arrived at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport during the wee hours of the morning, prepared to embark on a short, yet action-packed journey to the northeast. The occasion – the reason I was willing to leave my bed at 3AM – was Power Shift 2013.

For those unfamiliar, Power Shift is a biannual convergence organized by Energy Action Coalition (EAC). Over the course of three days, thousands of youth activists come together to work for a just future that includes a transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy.

From Saturday, October 19th through Monday the 21st, six thousand activists gathered together in Pittsburgh, PA for panels, keynote speeches, workshops, and actions on a variety of topics focused around climate, environmental, economic, and social justice. This year’s gathering sought to highlight the integral link between the environmental movement and other economic and social justice issues.

Read more: Reflections on Power Shift 2013
Steve Murchie
Where Does All the Money Go?
Monday, 04 November 2013 15:08

restorebuttonnThe passage of the RESTORE Act in 2012 ensured that 80% of BP’s eventual Clean Water Act fines will be dedicated to the restoration of the Gulf coast. While this was a huge victory and presents a major opportunity, there is a still a long road ahead for the restoration of the Gulf. One big step along that road is making sure that the Treasury Department adopts strong rules for overseeing how BP’s fines are spent. Help us tell the Department of Treasury to adopt rules that ensure restoration dollars are spent effectively.

Right now, the US Department of Treasury is taking comments on how they will govern the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. This is a critical opportunity to make sure that all monies delivered to the Gulf are spent appropriately and, more importantly, spent in areas that were truly impacted by BP's negligence.

Many of us remember the inappropriate spending after Hurricane Katrina, like the Gulfport Port project which utilized Katrina HUD monies that were intended to fund low income housing. Setting strong, comprehensive rules on the front end can help keep these types of projects from moving forward. Send a message to Treasury demanding accountability for RESTORE Act funds.

Adopting comprehensive rule that favor restoration, transparency, and public participation will help to preserve a region that is vital to the health of the nation. The comment period ends tomorrow, so write the Treasury Department now.

Raleigh Hoke
BP, Voodoo, and Pearl Jam
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 13:44

voodoo set up pic

Excitement is in the air here at GRN’s office as we gear up our seventh year as the official non-profit partner of the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. We’re especially excited about seeing Pearl Jam play on Friday night! In the wake of the BP disaster, Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation was a big supporter of GRN’s efforts to document and share the truth about the ongoing impacts from BP’s oil and toxic dispersants. Over three years later, the oil is still here, and still affecting our communities, wildlife, and environment. And the members of Pearl Jam are still helping us tell that story. In fact, Eddie Vedder was on Jimmy Fallon last Friday talking about the BP disaster and Gulf Restoration Network.

At Voodoo, we’ll be working hard to make sure BP is held accountable for the restoration of the Gulf. I hope you can come by our booth and help out! On Tuesday, we built up our “coastal lines of defense” display to demonstrate to festivalgoers how barrier islands, marshes, and cypress forests help protect New Orleans and other communities from storm surge. BP fines from the disaster are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jumpstart the restoration of our coastal lines of defense. We’ll also have a movie tent, screening some great short films about Gulf restoration, some of which you can check out on our YouTube page. Finally, we’ll have a booth where people can take a photo petition with signs calling on the Justice Department to hold BP accountable.

Read more: BP, Voodoo, and Pearl Jam
Matt Rota
How Much is Louisiana Water Worth?
Friday, 18 October 2013 15:42

Water Commission blog-picWater Resources Commission Members During "Round Table" DiscussionYesterday, I attended a meeting of the Louisiana Water Resources Commission. This commission, formed by the Louisiana State Legislature, has been charged with the important goal of coming up with a “Comprehensive Statewide Water Resources Management Plan.” Given Louisiana’s history of floods, need for coastal restoration, diminishing aquifers, and salt water intrusion into drinking water supplies, such a plan is extremely important.  However, my take away from this meeting was that if we want Louisiana to have an effective comprehensive water plan, we have a long way to go.

One of the most striking things that I learned  was presented by James Devitt of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. Apparently Louisiana has a program where if an industry wants to withdraw water from a river, stream, or lake (a public resource), they can do one of three things:

1) they can just not apply for a permit, since it is a voluntary program,

2) they can voluntarily apply for a permit and pay “fair market value” for the water , or

3) they can voluntarily apply for a permit and then give an economic rationale why the water fee should be waived.

Now what is fair market value? According to Mr. Devitt's presentation, over the past few years, Louisiana has authorized three billion gallons of water withdrawal, and guess what the "fair market value" of that water was... $6,700! That's right. That averages out to .0002 cents per gallon for water. Who is that "fair" to? Certainly not to the Louisiana citizens that own this public resource.

Read more: How Much is Louisiana Water Worth?
Steve Murchie
Dirty Coal and Louisiana's Coast
Thursday, 17 October 2013 15:38

United Bulk Coal Runoff Coal runoff at existing United Bulk Terminal. GRN continues to push for science-based coastal restoration, and to oppose dirty energy projects that would harm communities and the Gulf coast environment. On Wednesday, these two efforts converged at the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) meeting in Baton Rouge.

GRN’s Coastal Wetlands Specialist Scott Eustis used Louisiana’s “sunshine” public records law to obtain a technical report from the Water Institute of the Gulf, who advises the CPRA on scientific matters. The Water Institute report showed that a coal terminal proposed by Ram Terminals LLC would significantly impair a centerpiece of the CPRA’s coastal restoration efforts, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion.

Read more: Dirty Coal and Louisiana's Coast
Andrew Whitehurst
No to Rigs on Our Horizon
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 05:59

MS drilling MCPThe Mississippi Sound and our barrier islands are amazing natural and economic resources for the state – attracting visitors from far and wide to enjoy our fishing, food, culture and wildlife. However, the growing tourism industry along the Coast is threatened by a Mississippi Development Authority proposal to open state waters to oil and gas drilling and other activities. Click here to say no to oil and gas activities within 12 miles south of our barrier islands.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) is currently reviewing rules for oil and gas activities in state waters to see if they are consistent with the Mississippi Coastal Program (MCP) and the other ways residents and businesses utilize the Coast. This process includes looking at impacts on wetlands, historical resources, and natural scenic qualities. Can you take a moment to tell DMR that oil and gas activities within 12 miles south of the barrier islands aren’t consistent with the MCP?

Read more: No to Rigs on Our Horizon
Sarah Holtz
Green Gallery Opening
Monday, 07 October 2013 12:34

pippin and natasha with sidewalk sign small Pippin and Natasha outside of the GRN Gallery

This past Saturday we held a gallery opening with printmaker Pippin Frisbie-Calder in celebration of Art for Art’s Sake. Visitors, art lovers, and friends of GRN filled our office to view Pippin’s incredible collection of woodcut prints and screenprints that are inspired by the beauty and diversity of the Gulf Coast environment. We’ve been delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Pippin, who is a Louisiana native and New Orleans resident.

On the night of the gallery opening, our guests were eager to hear about Pippin’s artistic process. She told us about the inspiration for a woodcut print that portrays a group of Cypress trees. Pippin found the image in the Tulane Archives and was disheartened by the logger who was posing in front of the trees. She decided to exclude the logger from her print, carving out a more hopeful future for the Gulf through her art. This message comes through in all of Pippin’s work and resonates with GRN’s vision for the restoration of the Gulf Coast. 

To make an appointment to view Pippin’s work at GRN, please contact Natasha Noordhoff at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Sarah Holtz is GRN's Development Associate.

Jonathan Henderson
Bird's Eye View: New Leaks Discovered and Reported
Friday, 04 October 2013 13:52

BLOG GMC September 30 2013 661 Earlier this week, GRN participated in three Gulf Monitoring Consortium coastal flyovers as part of our ongoing efforts to raise awareness and document ongoing oil and gas industry pollution and destruction of Louisiana’s wetlands and coastal environment. Gulf Monitoring Consortium (GMC) is a rapid response alliance that collects, analyzes and publishes images and other information from space, sky, and the surface to investigate and expose oil pollution incidents that occur in the Gulf of Mexico. GMC members engage in systematic monitoring of oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico using satellite images and mapping, aerial reconnaissance and photography, and on-the-ground and in-the-water observation and sampling to identify, locate and track new and ongoing oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.

The first flight was on the morning of Monday, September 30th and was provided by GMC member SouthWings and piloted by Bruce McGregor. GRN filed four reports with the National Response Center based on leaks that we encountered. For a detailed report from this flight including photos by Jeffrey Dubinsky of Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, links to GMC partner Skytruth’s alert system which tracks NRC reports, and other details, please see this blog post by Paul Orr of the Lower Mississippi River Keeper and LEAN. GRN Photos and details from this flyover can be viewed by visiting the link below. Be sure to click on the photos for descriptions:

Read more: Bird's Eye View: New Leaks Discovered and Reported
Steve Murchie
Hold BP Accountable
Friday, 04 October 2013 10:32

bptrialbuttonAs the trial for the BP disaster continues, it’s more important than ever that the Justice Department holds BP accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Between the court of public opinion and the actual courtroom, BP is doing everything they can to minimize their punishment for violating the Clean Water Act. Billions of dollars in fines and penalties are at stake, and much of that money could be used to restore the Gulf’s communities and ecosystems. Tell the Justice Department to continue to stand strong and to hold BP accountable for their damage to the Gulf.

Thanks to the RESTORE Act, most of the Clean Water Act fines BP is required to pay will be dedicated to Gulf recovery. These fines are estimated to be between $4-18 billion, but right now no one knows for sure how much BP will ultimately pay. What happens over the coming weeks in the courtroom will play a big part in determining the final sum. Please take action today and tell the Justice Department to make sure BP pays the maximum fines under the law.

While the nation’s eyes have largely turned elsewhere, the Gulf’s communities and wildlife continue to feel the fallout from the BP disaster. We need to hold them accountable for every barrel of oil, every gallon of Corexit, every dolphin that washed up onshore, and every person that was affected and continues to be plagued by the ongoing impacts from the BP disaster.

Steve Murchie is GRN's Campaign Director. 

Harry Lowenburg
Citizens Call on NOAA to Strengthen Bluefin Protections
Thursday, 03 October 2013 13:17

BP oil impact on spawning bftThe overlap of bluefin tuna's spawning area with BP's oil.On September 27th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held a public hearing in Belle Chasse, LA on proposed bluefin tuna regulations, attended by approximately 70 Gulf residents. Among other things, these proposed rules would restrict surface longline fishing in portions of the Gulf of Mexico during April and May, and implement an individual vessel annual cap for bluefin killed on surface lines. Dozens of people testified at the hearing, calling on NOAA to strengthen protections for bluefin and commit to helping fund fishermen’s transitions from longlines to more sustainable gear. Missed the hearing? You can still take action here.

Bluefin tuna were directly impacted by the BP disaster. With billions of restoration dollars soon flowing to the Gulf, NOAA has a real opportunity for win/win when it comes to protecting bluefin tuna. At the hearing, GRN and our partners called on NOAA to restrict surface longline fishing in the Gulf, while using BP disaster restoration dollars to help fishermen transition to more sustainable gear.

Read more: Citizens Call on NOAA to Strengthen Bluefin Protections
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BP's Oil Drilling Disaster - Take Action

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