Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Blogging for a Healthy Gulf
Raleigh Hoke
GULF VIDEO: Transparent Sea Cucumbers and Wildcat Tubeworms
Friday, 11 December 2009 08:36

Transparent sea cucumbers! Wildcat tubeworms! The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international research project, has inventoried over 17,600 deep-sea species that live where no sunlight seeps through. Check out this truly remarkable footage:

The findings are a cry for conservation-based ocean policy, as even deep-sea ecosystems feel human impacts. Robert S. Carney, LSU professor and co-leader of the project's Continental Margin Ecosystems, sums it up well: "Many species live there [the "abyss"]. However, the abyss has long been viewed as a desert. Worse, it was viewed as a wasteland where few to no environmental impacts could be of any concern. 'Mine it, drill it, dispose into it, or fish it - what could possibly be impacted? And, if there is an impact, the abyss is vast and best yet, hidden from sight.' Census of Marine Life deep realm scientists see and are concerned."

Raleigh Hoke
Save Mississippi's Pascagoula River
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 08:17

The Pascagoula River and the Mississippi Sound are an amazing natural and economic treasure for Mississippi - home to wildlife like pelicans and dolphins, and famous for their fantastic fishing. Unfortunately, they are threatened right now by a Department of Energy plan to hollow out an underground salt dome near Richton, Mississippi in order to store more oil! This plan involves sucking 50 million gallons of water a day from the Pascagoula River every day for five years, and dumping this polluted, hyper-salty water off the coast of Horn Island.

To add salt to the wound, this irresponsible plan will cost American taxpayers upwards of $4 billion dollars! Recently, Congress set aside another $25 million dollars for this project. Despite widespread opposition, Congress keeps approving more and more public money for this environmentally destructive project! Click here to tell your representatives to put the brakes on the Richton salt dome and listen to the public's concerns by holding Congressional field hearings now:

The Mississippi Sound and the Pascagoula River are vital economic drivers for the state's economy and this project puts these resources and the jobs that rely on them at risk. Marine fishing alone employs over 6,000 people! It's time for our representatives to listen to the public and stop squandering taxpayer dollars on this wasteful project. Take action by sending a message to your representatives now!

Raleigh Hoke is GRN's Mississippi Organizer
Dan Favre
Healthy Gulf Krewe Conference Call
Monday, 07 December 2009 12:15
Please join me, members of the Healthy Gulf Krewe, and other dedicated GRN volunteers for a conference call to learn more about joining the Healthy Gulf Krewe to help save the Gulf.

Wednesday, December 9th at 7:30pm Central Time
Call-In Number: 712-775-7000
Conference Code: 969864#

Below is the blog I posted a while ago that gives a brief overview of the Healthy Gulf Krewe. It's pretty good, but it will be even better to discuss the vision for the Krewe, its mission, and what it means to be a Krewe member on Wednesday's call. Look forward to speaking with you then!


Gulf Restoration Network is proud to launch the Healthy Gulf Krewe to continue building the movement of ordinary citizens from around the country fighting for Louisiana's wetlands and a healthy Gulf! You are officially invited to join the Krewe, and you can get started by contacting Dan Favre, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504-525-1528 ext 209.

Healthy Gulf Krewe Mission:
To unite and empower people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico (and have fun while doing it!). To build the Gulf Restoration Network citizen voice throughout the country. To develop dedicated volunteer leaders to defend the Gulf Coast.


On the Gulf coast, the traditions of Carnival are celebrated from Galveston and New Orleans to Mobile and Tampa. The bands of revelers, known as “krewes”, are famous for parades and balls, and many also support good causes. Gulf Restoration Network is using tradition to fight for the future with the Healthy Gulf Krewe, a nation-wide band of fun-loving, hard-working activists passionate about defending the Gulf.

Krewe Member Commitment: 10 – 10 – 10
  • Maintain donation of $10 or more per month through the Gulf Sustainer program
  • Spend at least 10 hours per month fighting for the Gulf
  • Organize 10 events per year to educate and mobilize the public (see reverse for ideas)
GRN Commitment to You
  • Materials – From our No Coast, No Music Benefit CD and your choice of GRN t-shirt to brochures, posters, and petition sheets, we’ll provide the materials to get things done (and look good doing it!).
  • Knowledge – You’ll receive our newsletter, calendar annual report, and e-mail action alerts to keep you up to date. Krewe members will also be invited to special briefings and skills trainings - over the phone, and perhaps even here in New Orleans.
  • Support – Monthly conference calls will keep the Krewe in touch, and GRN staff will be happy to help you brainstorm, plan, and execute your events. And we’ll show you a great time when you come to visit!
As we celebrate the wilderness and amazing cultures of the Gulf, we’ve got to fight for the future. Defend our wetlands, defend ourselves! To learn more and join, contact GRN Campaign Organizer, Dan Favre at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504-525-1528 ext 209.

Potential Events for Krewe Members to Organize
  • Set up a table and gather petition signatures at a local farmers’ market, street festival, or music show (we could probably help get you set up with Dr. John, Galactic, Tab Benoit, Amanda Shaw, Anders Osbourne, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and a few others)
  • Make a short presentation to a local civic organization (your Rotary club, your church, your friends at the bar) and collect petition signatures addressed to your elected officials
  • Phonebank GRN members and activists to engage them in a specific effort, event, or campaign
  • Host a GRN Happy Hour or a “Mardi Gras Party with Purpose” with New Orleans food and drink to raise money and awareness for GRN

  • Meet with other environmental or civic groups to enlist their support
  • Organize a movie screening – anytime is great, and especially important as part of GRN’s work to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Katrina and Rita
  • Join us in Washington DC to lobby your state’s delegation for a federal commitment to a sustainable Gulf coast, and/or meet with your Senators and Representative at home
  • Put together a panel of speakers to present at a local university (maybe you could even get a GRN staffer to come talk!)
  • Conduct a press conference to publicize an important event or report
  • Put on a huge benefit concert to raise awareness and money (we know the guys in Galactic . . . )
Dan Favre is the Campaign Organizer (a.k.a "Krewe Organizer") for GRN. Join the Krewe by contacting him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504-525-1528 ext 209.
Aaron Viles
Loss of a Leader
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 07:30
We learned yesterday of a tragic loss to New Orleans and all who care about our city and region's future. Pam Dashiell, a long-time leader in the Holy Cross neighborhood, was found dead in her home. As the co-leader of the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, she was a strong and steady voice for a truly long-term, sustainable recovery for her neighborhood, a recovery that embraced a vision of carbon neutrality, robust coastal lines of defense, and environmental & social justice.

Personally, Pam was one of the first activists I ever worked with when I made my move to New Orleans about ten years ago. I was working for a national environmental group and we were about to release a report detailing environmentally harmful and fiscally irresponsible federal projects. The industrial canal lock expansion topped the list locally, so Darryl Malek Wiley with the Sierra Club introduced me to the Holy Cross Neighborhood leaders who had been spearheading efforts to stop the project, Pam and John Koeferal. They were both so welcoming, and so passionate about the cause, I knew I had found long-term partners.

As I moved onto other issues, campaigns and organizations, Pam was always there. We ran into each other in the Hague at an international Shell protest (the photo is our group enjoying some corporate accountability camaraderie). We served together on the board of advisors of the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal & Ecological Health. We worked together on coastal wetlands restoration advocacy, on closing the MRGO (see the WDSU clip below), on global warming advocacy, on Gulf recovery advocacy. We joked about how much time we spent together in meetings, sometimes four a week.

I always wanted to sit next to her to make sure we could collaborate, bounce ideas off each other, and most importantly make each other laugh. Pam was the heart and soul of her community, and we are all going to miss her. Her legacy is her work. We will keep heading to the vision that Pam was diligently working towards. We'll get there together, it's just not going to be nearly as much fun now along the way.

Aaron Viles is GRN's campaign director



The Times-Picayune ran their obituary on Pam today. You can see it here.

Included in it are details for Friday's memorial and Saturday's funeral:

A memorial tribute will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at All Souls Episcopal Church, 5500 St. Claude Avenue. A funeral will be held at All Souls on Saturday at 11 a.m., with visitation starting at 9 a.m. Rhodes Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

The Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development will be covering all the costs for the burial, memorial and funeral.

Donations can be made out to their 501 (C) 3 partner Teagras Helping Hands, and sent to the CSED at 5130 Chartres St. New Orleans, LA 70117

One additional thing I have heard is that next week's meeting of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association will include sharing memories of Pam, as part of their holiday potluck. All are welcome. It's next Thursday, December 10th, from 5:30-9:00 p.m. at 4804 Dauphine Street.

Also, the Gambit blog has a piece on her, and some folks have made some very nice comments.

Aaron Viles
Keystone Corps and Judge Duval
Monday, 30 November 2009 09:29

Having seen all of the press coverage and politicians making statements about the opinion written by Judge Duval finding that Corps negligence resulted in the levee breach that flooded St. Bernard Parish and the Ninth Ward, last week I obtained a copy of that opinion.

After having read all 156 pages of the opinion, what I find most surprising is how most of the coverage and statements by politicians fail to acknowledge the actual basis for the Courts’ finding of liability. Contrary to many of these statements I have heard, the Court did not find the Corps liable because it built the MRGO. Rather, he found the Corps liable because their continuous failure to properly maintain the MRGO and address significant erosion contributed to the breach of the Reach 2 Levee that protects St. Bernard Parish and the 9th Ward. On other hand, he did not find them liable for damages to New Orleans East or for the levee breach that occurred in the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal.

What is most striking about the entire case; however, is that the Judges recitation of the facts shows, an utter disregard by the Corps for over 20 year of the safety of the residents of St. Bernard Parish. After detailing the history of the MRGO and the expert testimony presented at trial, Judge Duval’s opinion specifically found that
“Clearly, the Corp failed to maintain and operate the MRGO in a manner so as not be a substantial factor in the destruction of the Reach 2 Levee. In addition, it failed to take action that it could have taken to place foreshore protection using the very operation and maintenance funds which proved to be sufficient to fund these actions in the 1990’s. Instead, it ignored the safety issues for the inhabitants of the region and focused solely on the maritime clients it serviced so well.”

The second thing that is so striking – but not surprising for those of us who watchdog Corps projects -- is the Corps’ blatant disregard for the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The Corps published its “Final Composite Environmental Statement of Operation and Maintenance on Three Navigation Projects in the Lake Borgne Vicinity Louisiana” in March of 1976.

In February 1988, it published a “Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet St. Bernard Parish, La. Bank Erosion Reconnaissance Report" which reported that the Outlet was experienc severe erosion that was steadily widening the MR-GO and that the east bank along Lake Borgne was dangerously close to being breached. According to the Court, despite this finding, the Corps never supplemented its 1976 Environmental Impact Statement as required by NEPA, and “never addressed mitigation measures, alternatives, or risks to human life and property, or any other disclosures required by NEPA and its implementing regulations.

Finally between 1980 and 2004, the Corps performed a total of 26 environmental assessments of the MRGO relating to operation and maintenance in which in each instance the Corps found that the operation and maintenance had no significant impact (FONSI) . . . . ” (Opinion at p. 133-134.)

Sadly, this case is alone sufficient proof of the need for the reform of this powerful agency and ensures that in the future, community safety is given equal importance to the interests of navigation.

Cyn Sarthou is GRN's Executive Director
Aaron Viles
Monday, 30 November 2009 07:24
Here's a cool shot from the NASA Earth Observatory image of the day website.

Matt Rota
Monday, 23 November 2009 13:41
As our readers know, many of our issues end up being settled in a legal manner. Recently we were profiled by, which is a non-profit website that features breaking legal news, as well as profiles organizations that work on various issues.

If you have a chance, you can check out GRN's profile and the other organizations and news items on

Matt Rota is GRN's Water Resources Program Director

Aaron Viles
Gulf Fish: Let's Leave Some for the Future
Sunday, 22 November 2009 18:09
The Gulf Region is known for its fishing, and so it's in everyone's best interest that Gulf fish stocks thrive. Unfortunately, as Daniel Pauly pointed out this fall, the fishing industrial complex has made "eating a tuna roll at a sushi more environmentally benign than driving a Hummer or harpooning a manatee."

Recent recreational season closures in the Gulf came after catch limits were exceeded, but the decision to close the amberjack season has excited a couple protests and press. While the system used to estimate catch levels has significant problems, the fact that we are able to take action to manage the Gulf's amazing fisheries sustainably and limit overfishing is encouraging. The short-term pain of an early closure must be balanced against the long-term gain of healthy Gulf fish populations.

Aaron Viles is GRN's campaign director
Dan Favre
Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:14
GRN is currently accepting applications for our spring 2010 internships! In the Gulf Region, students can earn college credit while working on some of the most pressing environmental issues facing the region! With help from dedicated people like you, we will hold corporations and government accountable for a healthy Gulf and continue to build the movement to defend the coast!

See the internship descriptions at

The Gulf Restoration Network is dedicated to holding those who threaten our way of life accountable for their decisions. Although we have experienced and hard working staff members, the Gulf Coast is a huge section of the country, with many issues facing it. That is why our interns and volunteers are so important. With only 10-15 hours a week contributed, interns effectively double or triple our capacity to reach out to the public, many times in areas we don’t have the resources to access. That work is crucial for holding decision makers feet to the fire.

Over the course of this Fall, student interns and service learners have engaged thousands citizens around the Gulf Region in priority campaigns for the Gulf Restoration Network. Contributing hundreds of hours, interns and volunteers worked closely with issue staff on issues such as Saving Our Cypress; Gulf Fish Forever; No Coast, No Music; One Climate, One Coast, One Chance; Defend Our Wetlands, Defend Ourselves; and Defend Florida’s Coast; amongst others.

These students learned grassroots organizing and advocacy skills, and put them good to use organizing home screenings of the documentary Paradise Faded, building partnerships with student groups to join in the International Day of Action, and getting more than 200 Voodoo Experience musicians to take action for Louisiana’s coast.

To make sure we continue growing this movement, GRN is looking to recruit a new wave of volunteers and interns for the Spring of 2010. From unspoiled wetlands to beautiful beaches and cypress forests to the port of New Orleans, the Gulf is a unique and invaluable asset to the United States. Now is the time to take action to save it.

Despite the contributions the region produces for the rest of the nation, such as the largest petro-chemical complex, the largest port by volume, 30% of U.S. energy, the second largest coffee port on the planet, 3 trillion dollars to the economy, and 50% of the nation’s wetlands, industry is allowed to treat the area as a dumping zone. These irresponsible, and often illegal, actions pollute our water, air, wreak havoc on our ecosystems, and degrade our quality of life. To add insult to injury, local, state, and even federal agencies often look the other way.

Join the Students United for a Healthy Gulf network as an intern and help fight to defend the Gulf next semester. You’ll earn class credit, gain valuable skills for your future, and play a crucial role in protecting our region’s environment!

Potential interns, and students in general, are encouraged to attend our Students United for A Healthy Gulf Leadership conference this January in New Orleans to meet with our staff to learn first hand the environmental problems facing the region and nation, learn many of the skills you will use throughout your internship, and meet great citizens from around the region who care about similar issues. Oh, and it’s FREE!

To learn more about internships available check out this link:

For more information, feel free to contact Collin Fox Thomas, Campus Organizer, at collin or call 504-525-1528 ext. 212, or Dan Favre at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504-525-1528 ext. 209.

Collin Fox Thomas is the GRN Campus Organizer.
Dan Favre
LANDMARK RULING: Corps Negligence Responsible for Katrina Flooding
Thursday, 19 November 2009 08:12
In a ruling that may have far-reaching consequences, a federal judge has determined that Army Corps negligence in maintaining the Mississippi River - Gulf Outlet is responsible for flooding that occurred in parts of the city during Katrina.

Specifically, the judge cited the lack of action by the Corps to counter the widening of the canal, which created an even larger "hurricane highway" for storm surge; the failure to maintain the canal also eroded the bank on which levees sat, allowing them to slump under their own weight; and the failure to properly maintain the channel allowed more saltwater to move into the marsh destroying the wetlands that buffer levees and protect the city.

Read the stories:

And many more:

The fight over liability will continue, potentially all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but this ruling validates what New Orleanians have know for a long time - Katrina was a man-made disaster.

No matter how long it takes for this court battle to be resolved, restoring the wetlands destroyed by MR-GO, along with implementing large-scale restoration projects to create a sustainable Louisiana coast, must be a top priority immediately.

GRN and our conservation partners were instrumental in convincing Congress to order the closing of the Mississippi River - Gulf Outlet, and we continue to call on the Corps to restore the 27,000 acres of wetlands the channel destroyed. You can help by taking action today.

Dan Favre is the GRN Campaign Organizer.
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