Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 10:03am
Consent Order
A proposed consent order between St. Petersburg and FDEP came out this week.

In response to the sewage overflows in St. Petersburg, FL, a draft Consent Order [pdf] has been released by St. Petersburg and Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection. Proposed improvements in the draft include:

  • Increasing the capacity of the Southwest Reclamation Facility (cost $21.7 M)
  • Construct two additional injection wells for disposal of treated sewage cost ($12.2 M)
  • Albert Whitehead Water Reclamaition Facility storage to be increased from 5 to 8 miillion gallons (cost $3.3 M)
  • Sanitary sewer evaluation (cost $.8 M)
  • Repair/replace wastewater system components ($35.5 M through FY21)

To view the draft consent order go here....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 12:28pm

It’s been five months since the $20 billion settlement with BP was finalized, setting forth the timeline and dollar amounts that will make its way down to the Gulf Coast. Within that $20 billion, approximately $5.3 billion went towards the funding of the RESTORE Act, which has been tasked with implementing restoration projects and programs across the Gulf. The RESTORE Council, a federal-state body tasked with governing two significant portion's of the RESTORE Act dollars, recently released their update to its 2013 Initial Comprehensive Plan, informing the public, and federal, state and local bodies how the Council portion of RESTORE dollars will be spent.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 11:05am
Beach Closed
Photo Courtesy of Pinellas County Dept. of Health

Due to massive rainfalls earlier this month during Hurricane Hermine, St. Petersburg sewage treatment systems began discharging partially treated sewage, comingled with rain water, into Tampa Bay. This has resulted in over 111 million gallons of sewer overflows in the Bay.

While this obviously constitutes a failure in St. Petersburg infrastructure and a threat to public health, residents and the City Council were not notified of the sewage contamination until September 7, a day after they stopped pumping waste into the Bay.

City officials are saying the water is clean, but their own monitoring says otherwise. GRN has completed an analysis of the monitoring data [download pdf of report here] and has found the following:
•    There are still high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in waters they are sampling.
•    They have stopped sampling in 16 of 23 sampling sites, without adequate evidence or...

Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 12:46pm

Last week, I attended my first Gulf Council meeting here in New Orleans, Louisiana. The meetings happen roughly every 2 months, and are where all of the big decisions are made in terms of how to move forward with our Gulf fisheries. The 17-member council consists of 16 state representatives, ranging from fishermen to scientists, and 1 federal representative.  Most people believe that this council is all federal members, but as you can see, this is not the case. Those making the decisions have just as much an interest in the health of our local fisheries as we do. This is very important to consider when we discuss changing fishery management from ‘federal’ to state control.

View from the Council Meeting. 

This meeting was focused on a broad number of issues, but on Wednesday afternoon, attendees were allowed to see what the real issues...

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 3:28pm

Photo credit: Florida's Springs.

For over two years, GRN has been working with our partners to oppose the proposed Sabal trail fracked-gas pipeline. This 515 mile fracked-gas pipeline would cut through Alabama, Georgia and Florida – impacting almost 1,000 acres of wetlands, exposing nearby communities to pollution and the threat of explosions, and putting drinking water at risk for millions of residents.

Over the last few months, we’ve been pushing the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to deny the wetlands destruction permits for this destructive project, and over 25,000 people like you have joined us by signing petitions, writing letters and taking action against the pipeline. Thank you for everything you’ve done!  

Despite this chorus of public opposition to Sabal trail, we’re sad to report that the Corps issued permits for the project late last week.

But the fight isn’t over!...

Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 4:48pm
Springfield, LA. Photo Credit: Candice Hoz

Much of Louisiana is under water. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, their homes destroyed, and thirteen lives were lost. All of this destruction is because of unprecedented flooding in the state.

The rain may have stopped, but the water is still here. Many are suffering, and they need our help.

We are asking for your support in responding to this disaster. Can you donate to one of the relief efforts listed below?

  • Foundation for Louisiana: is collecting for the Strategic Flood Response Fund to provide assistance for both relief and immediate recovery efforts.
  • Louisiana Environmental Action Network: is providing direct relief for those who need personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely clean, repair and re-enter their homes.
  • BOLD Louisiana: is collecting donations to distribute directly to local organizations in Acadia and other rural parishes affected by the storm, many of which
  • ...
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 2:47pm

Join UsJoin us in New Orleans this Saturday, August 20th, as we stand with Gulf Coast communities in resistance to extraction and in solidarity with all fights for justice. Together, we will call for an end to new offshore leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and for a just transition for our region.

What: Gulf Coast Day of Interdependence March: Another Gulf Is Possible! 
When: Saturday, August 20th at 10:30 AM 
Where: Lafayette Square, South Maestri St & Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130 
RSVP and more info: www.nonewleases.org/rsvp/

Climate change, the fossil-fuel industry, and systemic racism have disproportionately harmed Gulf Coast communities for generations. The ramifications of devastating storms, heartbreaking spills, and depleted fisheries are real. Right now, communities throughout the region are suffering from unprecedented flooding.

Now is the time for real change. With the Obama administration set to auction millions of...

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 10:25am

Rapid Response

Last month 4,200 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf off the coast of Louisiana - dousing the delicate marshes of Barataria Bay in thick, sticky oil.

As soon as Gulf Restoration Network learned of the spill, we leapt into action. With the help of a generous supporter, we were in the air less than 24 hours after the Hilcorp Energy spill was reported - taking photos, documenting the damage, reaching out to state and federal agencies and raising awareness about the latest oil industry harm to our precious coast.

Because of our quick reaction, state and federal agencies are now in motion to hold Hilcorp accountable to clean up the damage. But, we can't do this alone.

Help us respond quickly and strategically to leaks, spills and disasters by donating today to our Rapid Response Fund.

Without the...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - 9:14pm
Louisiana Cypress

We requested it. And we got it. Join us at a public hearing for the proposed Ascension Pipeline, this Thursday in LaPlace.

The Ascension Pipeline would transport natural gas liquids (NGL) from a processing plant to a nearby refinery, streamlining operations for two multibillion-dollar corporations. The proposal threatens over 130 wetland acres. Most is precious Cypress Tupelo swamp.

The wetland destruction would also fall within the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area, an expanse dedicated to preserving nature. Traversing the Maurepas Swamp means crossing the scenic Blind River. With more than 20 pipelines already running under these waters, how many is too many?

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) requires a Coastal Use Permit (CUP) for all coastal developments. Potential projects must offer a Justification Analysis to demonstrate the “public need and demand for the goods and/or services to be provided by the development.” However, pipelines that...

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 1:04pm

Wednesday morning, Gulf Restoration Network and our partners at Waltzer Wiygul & Garside LLC and Vanishing Earth flew over coastal Louisiana, to document the Hilcorp Energy pipeline spill in Barataria Bay. Yesterday, we took a boat and surveyed the sheens and slicks, grasses and birds at water level.

The crude oil leak, which was reported wednesday at 8 square miles, originated in an older pipeline canal and has smothered shoreline marshes at the root, like a heavy coating of poorly applied mascara. Local storms have dispersed sheens that spread out into Barataria Bay; local marshes remain thoroughly gooped. Of the ~8,000 spills in the Gulf with a known volume over the last 5 years, this spill is larger than 90 percent of them.

Barataria Bay was one of the most heavily oiled areas during the BP disaster. The impacts of that disaster broke every...

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