Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Scott Eustis
Heal the Marsh --Fix the Flow, Fix the Canals
Monday, 17 February 2014 22:57
Backfilling unused canals can restore flows and marsh without impeding access--all it takes is the oil industry paying back a small part of its debt to our coast.  
While the state is focused on larger-scale projects, like restoring the river and dredged marsh creation, there are tens of thousands of acres of restoration in the Delta that backfilling unused canals can accomplish--if the state merely asks the industry to comply with the law, and to work with DNR OCM to restore lands the state seeks to sustain with the river. 
When the coastal management program was first conceived, Louisiana's Dept of Natural Resources required the industry to fix their damages. DNR stopped required backfilling of canals some time ago, despite many studies outlining the benefits, and requests by the Louisiana legislature to improve industry access techniques.
Read more: Heal the Marsh --Fix the Flow, Fix the Canals
Guest Blogger
Is Big Oil's Political Gamble Bad for Business?
Monday, 17 February 2014 22:21

Has Big Oil & Gas’ Undeclared Liabilities Undermined Confidence in the Industry?

Originally posted to by Dr. Ezra Boyd.

Recently, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, a small flood protection board for the New Orleans area filed a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies that they allege caused damage to the region’s coastal wetlands, and hence contributed significantly to the cost of managing flood risk for their jurisdiction.  The industry responded with denial and an approach that seems more based in fantasy than sound business accounting.

The industry has not convincingly argued against the merits of the lawsuit, and in fact they acknowledge that their activities have been a major contributor to Louisiana’s coastal crisis.  However, instead of demonstrating that they are prepared to honestly account for this liability, the industry's approach has been to use politics and legal maneuvers to block the lawsuit. For example, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA) recently filed suit against the Louisiana Attorney General’s office for approving the flood protection board’s request to hire lawyers to pursue their case. This suit has nothing to do with the industry’s responsibilities for damages they caused; it just argues that the board followed the wrong procedure when putting together their legal team. In the end, it’s doubtful that this strategy will get them off the hook. In fact, three parishes have since started the process of filing their own, independent lawsuits for oil and gas’s coastal damage.

Read more: Is Big Oil's Political Gamble Bad for Business?
Andrew Whitehurst
Hattiesburg Sewage Plans
Monday, 17 February 2014 12:29

effluentsmaller Effluent dumping into the Leaf River from one of Hattiesburg's existing sewage treatment facilities. The City of Hattiesburg, Mississippi has signed a contract with Groundworx LLC to take over the city’s sewage treatment. The Hattiesburg sewage lagoons have been causing ongoing problems with odor and pollution, and while taking care of this problem is long overdue, it is not certain that the system Groundworx intends to implement will solve the problem.

The land application system is said to be modeled after one built in Dalton, Georgia to treat that city’s wastewater. The 3000 acres of sprayer arrays on forest and grassland necessary to dispose of Hattiesburg’s waste water will be close to the square area of Dalton’s land treatment operation. Dalton’s is the largest land application system in Georgia and it is not without environmental problems.

Read more: Hattiesburg Sewage Plans
Steve Murchie
Restoration the Right Way
Friday, 14 February 2014 14:09

RescueTheCoastActionAlertWe have until Wednesday to tell our leaders that we want true environmental restoration for the Gulf!

At the end of 2013, our state and federal leaders issued a draft plan and list of proposed projects to help guide and implement restoration across the Gulf Coast. This Plan, known as the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, sets the stage as we begin to rebuild our coast in the aftermath of the BP drilling disaster.

Tell our leaders to adopt a comprehensive restoration Plan!

Right now, state and federal Trustees are taking comments on the Plan, which will dictate how they govern and spend Early Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) funding - monies earmarked to restore our natural resources. This funding source is a unique opportunity. We must ensure that it's spent appropriately and, more importantly, utilized to restore the natural environment that was damaged by BP’s oil.

Many of us remember the misspending after Hurricane Katrina: money that was meant to go to areas that were impacted by the storm instead being spent on politicians' favorite pork barrel projects. We are at risk of that happening again. Currently, a $58.5 million hotel and conference center in Alabama’s Gulf State Park has been proposed for Early NRDA funding. This project is a terrible waste of restoration dollars.

Read more: Restoration the Right Way
Matt Rota
New Permit for Bogalusa Paper Mill Inadequate
Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:48

Bogalusa Mill Map-public hearing-2014Feb04Map depicting the mill's massive waste ponds. Map presented at the public hearing held in Slidell, LA on February 4, 2014Last week, there were two public hearings regarding the paper mill that killed hundreds of thousands of fish due to an illegal discharge in 2011.  These hearings were well attended by about 150 attendees between the two meetings.  While there were some folks that were for and against the draft permit, GRN does not feel that the proposed permit is protective enough, especially due to the shady past of this mill.

According to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, this mill dumped 183,997 pounds of toxic chemicals into the Pearl River!  These pollutants include ammonia, barium compounds, manganese compounds, methyl ethyl ketone, methanol, and zinc compounds.  And yet there are no limits for these toxins in the proposed permit!

Read more: New Permit for Bogalusa Paper Mill Inadequate
Scott Eustis
Can a Kite Show Where We Flood?
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 18:34
This blog is re-posted from
###What I want to do
Make a kite map of city park after a winter rainstorm, to capture where the water sits on the site where city park installed a stormwater wetland. I want to check where the water sits, whether it is drained away from the cycletrack and the roadway, and find sites where stormwater wetlands could be installed. 
Using kite monitoring techniques, I wish to monitor a wetland and park project to see how it is changing the landscape. Although I could fly over the site with an airplane, or quad copter, a kite is a low-cost method of getting the aerial perspective needed to communicate and advocate for changes to our landscape. 
Read more: Can a Kite Show Where We Flood?
Jordan Macha
Pipelines and Playgrounds
Friday, 07 February 2014 00:00

This articles was excerpted from Gulf Currents, GRN's quarterly newsletter. To read the rest of the December 2013 edition of Gulf Currents, click here.

Mobile River_at_Chickasaw_Creek Mobile River at its confluence with Chickasaw Creek. Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual LibraryJust three miles north of downtown Mobile sits Africatown, a community founded by the last known group of enslaved Africans brought to the United States. They were illegally transported to Alabama’s shores in 1860, and subsequently freed by federal authorities. For decades, this group and their descendants continued to practice tribal traditions, and speak their native language. Their incredible story and the strong community that formed there have led to recognition from the National Historic Register and other bodies. However, due to its location on the Tensaw River and its proximity to Mobile Bay, Africatown is now adjacent to industrial development on all sides — including an oil pipeline owned by Plains Southcap that runs from one of their terminals to a nearby tank farm. 

To make matters worse, Plains Mobile Pipeline is now proposing the construction of a new pipeline that will run directly through Africatown. Instead of replacing the existing pipeline, Plains plans to build this pipeline in the backyard of the Mobile Training School (built circa 1880), the middle school that serves Africatown. Understandably, members of the community don’t want a pipeline right next to the schoolyard where their children play. In just the past few months, numerous incidents across the Gulf region have occurred involving the transportation of petroleum products, both on railways and through pipelines. This is our wake-up call. Do we continue to put our communities and environment at tremendous risk for industrial gain? Or do we prioritize our need for clean drinking water, safe havens, and healthy air quality? This is our choice across the Gulf Coast. What will we decide? 

Jordan Macha is the GRN's Gulf Policy Analyst

Steve Murchie
Protect Our Coasts and Climate
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 13:22

ProtectOurCoastActionAlertsmallerFrom rising sea levels to stronger storms and ocean acidification, the Gulf of Mexico’s communities, wildlife and ecosystems are already dealing with the consequences of climate change. For our sake and for future generations, we need to take action to prevent its worst impacts. EPA is currently considering pollution standards for climate change-causing carbon pollution. Can you take a minute to tell them to protect our communities by setting strong carbon pollution standards for power plants?

Nearly 40% of US carbon pollution comes from power plants. Yet, these facilities currently have no limits on how much of this pollution they can release into the atmosphere. Urge EPA to take action to curb this pollution now.

Between sea level rise and coastal land loss, the Gulf’s communities are more and more at risk every time a hurricane slams into the coast. In southeast Louisiana, coastal residents are facing the highest relative sea level rise in the world. And according to a recent study, many communities along the Gulf are experiencing higher high tides than ever before in part due to climate change, leaving them more vulnerable to coastal flooding and storm surges.

Read more: Protect Our Coasts and Climate
Matt Rota
Culprit of 2011 Pearl Fish-Kill Seeks Renewed Permit
Monday, 03 February 2014 16:47

templeinlandpondsmaller Antiquated treatment ponds at the mill. GRN photo, flight courtesy of Southwings.Back in the Summer of 2011, the Temple-Inland Paper Mill in Bogalusa, LA dumped some really noxious “black liquor” into the Pearl River and killed hundreds of thousands of fish and other critters.  Since then, they have been bought out by International Paper and fined for some of the damage.  Now, they are applying for a new permit which is not really any more protective than the last one!

There are two upcoming public hearings, and it is important that the public come out and tell International Paper that their new permits should be more protective of the Pearl River and the creatures that live in it.

Hearing Details:


Slidell (Slidell Auditorium, 2056 2nd St, Slidell, LA)

Tuesday, February 4, 6:00 p.m.


Bogalusa (Bogalusa City Hall Courtroom, 202 Arkansas Avenue, Bogalusa, LA.

Thursday, February 6, 6:00 p.m.


We hope to see you out at the hearings to speak up for the Pearl.

Matt is GRN’s Senior Policy Director

Cyn Sarthou
EPA Needs to Stop Stalling on Dispersants
Saturday, 01 February 2014 10:41

EPADispersantsActionAlertsmallerThe BP drilling disaster made it tragically clear that federal rules overseeing the use of chemical dispersants are deeply flawed. In the wake of the disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promised reforms. Yet it’s been almost four years, and our coastal communities are still at risk. Tell EPA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to act now to reform dispersant rules to protect the health of our communities and environment.

1.84 million gallons of Corexit were sprayed into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP disaster, despite responders having no knowledge of the its long-term impacts or effectiveness underwater. Sadly, those impacts are still reverberating through the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems and communities today. EPA and OMB need to stop stalling.

We cannot continue to allow oil companies to use these dangerous chemicals as a first response to oil spills without ensuring that they won’t do long-term harm to the people and wildlife of the Gulf. Please take action to tell EPA and OMB to hurry up and publish revisions to their dispersant regulations before the next major disaster.

Cyn Sarthou is GRN's Executive Director. 

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