Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

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...

Friday, December 12, 2014 - 10:14am
Leaking platform in East Bay
Leaking platform in East Bay, Louisiana, Sept. 2013.

Yesterday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) used its administrative authority to raise the liability cap for offshore oil spill related damages from $75 million to $134 million. This increase, which was based on the pace of inflation, was the maximum amount allowed under the law.

By using its legal power to raise the liability cap, BOEM has taken an important step to help make sure that offshore facilities that violate the law, pollute our environment and harm our economy are held financially accountable for their damages.

However, as the BP drilling disaster so clearly demonstrated, a massive oil spill can easily lead to billions upon billions of dollars in damages to our coastal economy and environment. In its final report, the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill called on Congress to significantly increase liability caps for offshore facilities, yet this recommendation has been...

Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 3:17pm
School of bluefin
Photo courtesy of NOAA

We are giving thanks and celebrating a big win with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s announcement last week of new protections for bluefin tuna. But, to really celebrate we need the other half of the win/win that we’ve been working towards in our “Switching Gears to Save Bluefin Tuna” Campaign: funding to help fishermen transition to more sustainable fishing gear.   

It has been four and a half years since BP’s oil first affected both tuna and fishermen. There is strong evidence that the oil directly impacted bluefin tuna’s health and spawning. One of the first restoration projects proposed for Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) funding was a program to help fisherman transition to more sustainable gear, but it has yet to be funded. 

So, as we celebrate, let us keep our eyes on the win/win. We will keep working to make sure fishermen get the gear transition project they so need.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 10:34am
Photo: Flickr user Peter Clark

For the third installment of our 20 Victories for 20 Years series, we’re looking back on our work between 2009 and 2011, which was the critical period when we began to respond to the BP drilling disaster, while continuing to watchdog developers and polluters.

#11: Clean Up Your Act!
In an effort to give the Gulf States a wakeup call to their poor water quality regulations, GRN published the “Clean Up Your Act!” Report Card, which evaluated the extent to which the Gulf States are failing to implement the Clean Water Act. We followed up the release of the report by asking our supporters to send statement regulators a clear message that it was time for them to take action. “Clean Up Your Act!” spoke volumes about how the states are failing to protect our waters and public health, and provided recommendations to alleviate these problems. Since then,...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 3:21pm

On Monday, December 1st, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released their list of proposed restoration projects for the Funded Priorities List (FPL). The proposed FPL is comprised of 50 habitat and water quality projects offered by the five Gulf States, the Corps of Engineers (Department of Army), Department of Interior, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency. As restoration of the Gulf ecosystem is one of the primary responsibilities of the Council, the final projects chosen should reflect this goal. Once vetting and evaluation is complete, the Council will determine which projects and programs it will prioritize for funding -- up to $150-180 million. These funds come from a portion of Transocean’s Clean Water Act penalties from the BP drilling disaster per the RESTORE Act.

Monday, December 1, 2014 - 4:21pm
Photo: Darryl Malek Wiley

The first week of December heralds the second installment of our 20 Victories for 20 Years series, a compilation of our cornerstone victories from two decades of environmental advocacy in the Gulf. Between 2006 and 2008, GRN tackled a range of vital campaigns, from preventing dangerous liquefied natural gas extraction in the Gulf to ensuring that big box stores stop selling garden mulch made from Louisiana cypress forests.

#6: Preventing Fish-Killing Liquefied Natural Gas Facilities in the Gulf
In 2006, GRN began to fight the development of fish-killing open loop liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals on the Gulf Coast. Each of these terminals would have sucked up over a hundred million gallons of Gulf seawater daily, destroying much of the sea life in that water. We worked with our partners in The Gumbo Alliance to successfully prevented two open-loop LNG terminals from being built off the coast of...