Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Cathy Harrelson
Fight Florida Fracking
Friday, 31 January 2014 12:24

FloridaFrackingAlert smallerAs Floridians guard our coastlines against drilling, Texas oil companies are quietly starting to drill for oil in our backyards using a technique known as “acid fracking.” In Collier County, east of Naples, residents are banding together to fight against the proposed Golden Gate acid fracking project in their community. Can you help them by urging the EPA to deny the injection well permit for the Golden Gate project and protect Florida families from dangerous drilling?

Florida Acid Fracking injects massive quantities of fresh water, chemicals and salt water into the layer below the aquifer that provides most of us with drinking water – dissolving this layer to free up dirty fossil fuels and threatening chemical and salt water intrusion into drinking water supplies. Our water is too precious to risk. Tell EPA to deny the injection well permit and protect Floridians from acid fracking.

Read more: Fight Florida Fracking
Matt Rota
LA's Dead Zone (In)Action Plan
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 14:36

DeadZonePollutionActionAlert smallerNitrogen and phosphorus pollution is still a major problem throughout the area that drains into the Mississippi River and the Gulf - causing harmful algae blooms, fish kills, and the Dead Zone. In order to combat this pollution, the Mississippi River states all agreed to develop “Reduction Plans.” Unfortunately, Louisiana’s officials have drafted a long document that doesn’t say much new, and does even less to reduce Dead Zone-causing pollution. Click below to tell state officials to come up with a real plan to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution:

The state’s so-called “plan” has little information about how to implement new reductions, and ignores some of EPA's recommendations. Plus, it doesn’t include science-based numeric goals and timelines for reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. If we don’t even have specific goals for reducing the pollution, how do we measure if efforts are effective?  

Read more: LA's Dead Zone (In)Action Plan
Steve Murchie
Dirty Energy on the Gulf Coast
Thursday, 23 January 2014 15:59

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.

OilOnGrandIsle2Oil on Grande Isle, LA following Tropical Storm Karen, October 8th, 2013. Photo Credit: Jonathan Henderson, GRN.As a region and a country, we are dependent on fossil fuels for energy and have been for generations. However, we do not have to look any further than our beaches and marshes to be reminded of the consequences of dirty energy. BP’s ads would have us believe that the Gulf is fine now, but the truth is that BP’s disaster continues to impact our communities and wildlife every day. 

It’s not just BP, though. Tar sands investors hope to pipe their product across America to Gulf refineries and ports and then overseas to market, opening our communities to the threatof spills. Faced with opposition to coal terminals and trains in other regions of the country, the coal industry is increasingly shifting to the Gulf region as a hub for exporting this dirty fuel to China and beyond.

Coastal Louisiana is disappearing, and oil and gas production is part of the problem. The industry directly dredges through wetlands, sinks marshes by extracting fluid from underneath the earth, and allows saltwater from the Gulf into places where salt degrades marsh plants. And the burning of that oil, gas and coal over decades is what is to blame for today’s global warming, and the subsequent sea level rise that is drowning our wetlands.

Read more: Dirty Energy on the Gulf Coast
Cathy Harrelson
Drilling for Florida Oil
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 11:55

Florida Panther at Big Cypress Reserve - photo Ralph Arwood Flickr An endangered Florida Panther in Big Cypress National Preserve, which is the site of some of the proposed drilling activities. Photo credit: Ralph Arwood/NPS. As we guard our coastlines against drilling, Texas oil companies are quietly drilling for oil in our backyards. In fact, oil drilling in Florida’s Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve has been going on since the 1930’s. However, recent permits issued in Collier County, east of Naples, represent a new threat. These operations involve drilling for oil at depths up to 25,000 feet using a mix of chemicals the state wants to exempt from disclosure. The waste chemicals resulting from oil drilling include Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene (BTEX). These carcinogenic BTEX chemicals endanger our aquifer and people’s lives. In addition to chemical injection, the use of salt water threatens intrusion into the Naples wellfield – the drinking water supply for thousands. 

Although not ‘fracking’ as we typically consider it, Florida Acid Fracking involves injecting massive quantities of fresh water, toxic chemicals and even salt water into the limestone below our aquifer – dissolving it to free up dirty fossil fuels. Thirty percent of these injection fluids are not returned to the surface. This stew of acid fracking chemicals is injected into an aqueous layer below the Floridan Aquifer called the “Boulder Zone.” This zone is so named because its cavernous spaces are the size of boulders. This salty, aqueous layer doesn’t prevent the upward migration of lighter-than-water chemicals into our groundwater aquifer. And, because the salinity and temperature of the Boulder Zone is similar to that of modern seawater, it is thought to be connected to the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean.

Read more: Drilling for Florida Oil
Scott Eustis
Kites show Spills, Sand, and our Shifting Landscape
Friday, 10 January 2014 15:10

 The wind is a constant factor in coastal life, but how often can we harvest it for science?

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science has aided GRN and others with low-cost aerial monitoring of pollution, but their tools and method can also be used to map the shifting sands beneath our feet.

Read more at their website, follow the link below to view and annotate the map made by Matt Prendergast, Julia Lightner, and myself.

If you'd like to learn more, come out to Loyola tomorrow, as Dredgefest explores Louisiana's relationship with the natural and built environment through technology that moves dirt.

Symposium Saturday, January 11-Sunday, January 12 in New Orleans, Loyola University

Intensive Workshops Monday, January 13-Thursday, January 16 in Baton Rouge

A Tour of Dredge Landscapes Friday, January 17 leaving from Spanish Fort at Lake Pontchartrain

 Read more about the most recent map, below.


Read more: Kites show Spills, Sand, and our Shifting Landscape
Scott Eustis
We Knew the Dolphins Were Sick
Friday, 10 January 2014 14:53
The more we know, the worse it seems. And the stranger our memories become.  BP must be held accountable for their damages.
We knew it was bad.  As we surveyed Barataria Bay, one of the most heavily impacted areas by BP, we at GRN saw stranded and dead dolphins throughout 2010 and 2011.  
Response data --open to the public until October 2010 -- have shown that dolphins have washed up in many locations across the Gulf, and many in Barataria.
The mortality event that began in 2010 has claimed more than 900 bottlenose dolphins to date, and many more lost beneath the waters, never to wash ashore. 
But more than three years after BP's well was capped, NOAA is now able to release a dolphin health study showing that one in five Barataria dolphins in 2011 was close to death. This study was on live dolphins captured and examined for sub-lethal impacts--were the dolphins we saw swimming by our boats all that time ok?  We knew they weren't, but we hoped.
Now that hope has been outlined by odds ratios.
Read more: We Knew the Dolphins Were Sick
Andrew Whitehurst
Mississippi Business and Legislative News from MEC's Capital Day
Friday, 10 January 2014 10:37

MEC January 2014 MEC Capital Day gathering at the Jackson Marriot January 8, 2014The Mississippi Economic Council is the statewide chamber of commerce. It held its Capital Day on January 8th in Jackson. Business leaders and elected officials presented to a room full of the movers and shakers in the state’s business community. Governor Bryant’s presentation touted Mississippi’s business climate. Citing the trade publication Area Development Magazine (2012), Bryant said that the state is number 2 nationally for competitive utility costs and permitting speed, and second in the world for oil and gas investment according to Fraser Institute (2012). From my perspective of having served on the MDEQ Permit Board, and watched it operate for the past 10 years, it is no surprise that permits are granted quickly in Mississippi. In the case of the MDEQ Permit Board, the Governor appoints two of the members and the rest of them work for agencies in the executive branch. If the Board had a motto it would be “the Governor gets what the Governor wants.” He wants jobs. Clean water, air and land are not as important as jobs in Mississippi – that will remain true no matter who is Governor.

Read more: Mississippi Business and Legislative News from MEC's Capital Day
Andrew Whitehurst
Judge Hears Our Appeal on Oil and Gas in MS
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 15:34

GRN and Sierra supporters leave Hinds Chancery Court after appeal arguments concluded GRN and Sierra Club supporters leave Hinds County Chancery court following appeal arguments.GRN and Sierra Club’s appeal of Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) leasing and seismic testing rules was heard by Hinds County Chancery Court Judge William Singletary on January 6th. In a packed courtroom, attorney Robert Wiygul argued that a plainly inadequate economic impact statement was written by MDA before they promulgated the rules. He further explained that MDA arbitrarily and capriciously pre-determined the decision when it had the discretion under the law to make an array of other decisions including limiting leasing and seismic testing to areas that wouldn’t harm scenic values and tourism.

MDA was willing to commit public trust resources (oil and gas reserves) without proper considerations on the effects of the decision on other valuable state assets such as revenue from coast tourism and charter fishing which rely on a scenic and inviting coast. MDA looked only at the plus side of the equation and avoided any negatives. There are plenty of negative factors (drilling rigs right next to Gulf Islands National Seashore – a National Park) to be balanced against MDA’s rosy predictions of mineral lease rentals and royalties.

Read more: Judge Hears Our Appeal on Oil and Gas in MS
Cyn Sarthou
HUD Audit Questions Mississippi's Use of Katrina Recovery Monies
Friday, 03 January 2014 11:59

Mississippi Coast Post Katrina Mississippi Coast Post-KatrinaThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently completed an audit (in response to a Congressional request) of Mississippi’s use of millions of dollars in post-Katrina recovery monies on sewer utilities.  The audit questions whether Mississippi  

Relied on some appraisals that did not meet required standards and led to $2.1 million in land purchases without assurance that the land was reasonably priced;

Used overblown population growth projections to justify  67 facilities, the capacity of which was either too small or excessive, or that may not have been needed; and

Approved more than $9.6 million of disaster funds for a facility, River Hill Wastewater Treatment Facility, based on an emergency requirement that was intended to facilitate expedited construction.  However, this “emergency” construction didn’t occur until April 2009.

Read more: HUD Audit Questions Mississippi's Use of Katrina Recovery Monies
Steve Murchie
Coast Not Coal
Monday, 23 December 2013 12:44

coalbuttonCan you take a minute away from your holiday bustle to help protect the coast?

A proposed floating coal export terminal threatens crucial coastal restoration plans and neighboring coastal communities. We can stop it and start 2014 on the right foot. Call on the Army Corps and state officials to protect the coast from this floating coal terminal. 

Coal-carrying barges dump coal in the river. Coal export terminals release clouds of coal dust that cover homes, boats, cars, and coastal wetlands with a layer of black soot. And this proposed floating coal terminal will interfere with the restoration of Barataria marshes - central to restoring our coastal lines of defense. Take action now and send a message to our public officials.

Together, we can protect our coast and communities. We’ve garnered great victories for the coast this year, like ensuring that over two-thirds of early restoration dollars from the BP disaster will be spent on environmental restoration. After years of work, coastal restoration momentum is building. Now is not the time to trip up restoration plans with a harmful, short-sighted coal export facility. 

Add your voice now, and thanks for all that you do to protect the coast.

Steve Murchie is GRN's Campaign Director.

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BP's Oil Drilling Disaster - Take Action

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