Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Monday, August 18, 2014 - 3:58pm
unbackfilled oil canal, a scar on the landscape

Louisiana needs to address the problem of abandoned oilfield sites.  Individuals and organizations can submit formal comments to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to apply the law on abandonment of oilfield sites.

Oilfield sites have scarred Louisiana for generations, becoming worse in spite of DNR efforts. 

Although Louisiana law and regulations require companies to “plug-and-abandon” non-producing sites, regulations have included large loopholes. Coupled with weak enforcement, this has led to thousands of useless open canals. 

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor recently released a report condemning DNR’s oversight of these sites. This report has sparked a 'rulemaking'--DNR recognizes that it needs to close the loopholes that allow oil and gas companies to shirk their duties to the public trust. 

The Green Army has drafted extensive comments on the shortcomings of the existing rules and...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 2:37pm

This articles is excerpted from Gulf Currents, GRN's quarterly newsletter. To read the rest of the Summer 2014 edition of Gulf Currents, click here.

A platform making its way down one of many
channels in Terrebonne Parish, LA. Photo:
Jonathan Henderson, GRN. Flight provided by

Many coastal advocates are reeling after Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana state legislature dealt a blow to a heroic effort to hold the oil industry accountable for the role they have played in destroying Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and increasing the vulnerability of New Orleans and other coastal communities to the impacts of powerful storms and floods.

Of course, this is not Gulf Restoration Network’s first time supporting accountability for the oil industry.

In 2007, GRN headed up a coalition effort – working with groups from Greenpeace to the Louisiana Shrimp...

Monday, August 11, 2014 - 3:02pm

Daniel McCool begins each chapter of River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers with a verse from the 19th century romantic poet William Cullen Bryant’s hymn to nature, “Green River.” If McCool’s book is his own hymn to America’s rivers, history and environmental policy are among his poetic devices.

McCool, who serves as the director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program at the University of Utah, describes a movement that has emerged in the past twenty years among grassroots river organizations to challenge the status quo of water policy. 

McCool’s writing is fluid and illustrative, incorporating poetry and music at times, which makes it a particularly enjoyable read. His personal narratives also supplement the secondary research of the book, reminding us what we each have at stake in protecting our rivers. 

McCool evokes a hopeful tone for the future of America’s scenic rivers by chronicling this “new...

Monday, August 4, 2014 - 12:00am

New Orleans, LA—Today scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium released their annual measurement of the Gulf Dead Zone, which measured 5,008 square miles, almost as large as the state of Connecticut.. LUMCON has been measuring the Dead Zone since 1985, and this year’s Dead Zone is three times larger than the Dead Zone Task Force’s 2015 goal. 

“While it is known that Louisiana is not one of the top contributors of Dead Zone-causing pollution, that is where the biggest impacts are felt,” said Matt Rota, Senior Policy Director for the Gulf Restoration Network. “Despite this impact, Louisiana is simply not doing enough to make upriver polluters stop polluting the Gulf.”

In February of this year, the Louisiana Attorney General, along with several other Attorneys General filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief, opposing a dead zone pollution clean-up plan for Chesapeake Bay, despite support from states that would be impacted by the...

Sunday, August 3, 2014 - 12:00am

Sunday, I went out with Public Laboratory's Mat Lippincott to map a marsh restoration built by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.  

And it's great to see these plants take off!  Plants that are more protected have been growing more vigorously at this beachfront at the Lake. It normally takes plants up to two years to grow into clumps this large, but here we've seen clumps at a mere three months. 

This video was taken by wideangle lens camera on a pole, to give it a 30 foot perspective that you can't normally see. Check it out!


Scott Eustis is GRN's Coastal Wetland Specialists....

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 1:43pm
Sunrise over Steinhatchee River. Photo courtesy of Suwannee River Water Management District.

In the U.S., we’ve seen year after year of record high temperatures, droughts in Texas, massive storms and surges, shifting plant zones and loss of species diversity. As the state with the most shoreline at risk, the climate change threats to Florida from sea level rise are legion. Many of our “leaders” continue to deny that the threat is real, the threat is global, and it will impact all of us.

Studies have documented risks to shorelines, coastal mangrove migration at the expense of tidal freshwater forests, impacts on economically important species like oysters and finfish, and flood insurance rate hikes. Increasing tidal flooding and decreasing relative elevation are strongly correlated with a decline in forest species richness. As mean high tides lines rise, many of our coastal communities face water inundation and ultimately, property abandonment. In spite of these risks, many communities fail to restrict...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 10:22am
Haynesville Shale North Louisiana Frack Pads, GRN flight 2014.

While some speculate that the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (TMS) may provide a future oil "boom" in southwest Mississippi counties, the reality is, the boom is no longer hypothetical and it will not just affect southwest Mississippi. Various signs indicate that the TMS has indeed been opened to major commercial production. To date, there are at least eight major corporations drilling or planning to drill the TMS, hundreds of millions of dollars in investments coming into these corporations, and plans to house and feed the influx of people employed by the oil boom.

Millions of gallons of water are currently being pumped from rivers and ponds for fracking. Stream withdrawals threaten water quantity in the public waterways of southwest Mississippi and downstream in Louisiana’s East Feliciana, St. Helena and Tangipahoa Parishes. Despite the gears steadily turning, and multiple wells being drilled, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has yet to implement...

Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 11:40am
Florida Panther at Big Cypress National Preserve. Photo credit: National Park Service/Ralph Arwood.

As we Floridians continue to guard our coastlines against offshore drilling, Texas oil companies are quietly moving to drill for oil in our backyards using a technique known as “acid fracking”. Acid fracking involves injecting massive quantities of fresh water, toxic chemicals and even salt water into the limestone below Florida’s aquifer – dissolving it to free up dirty fossil fuels.  Thirty percent of these injection fluids are not returned to the surface and these chemical could impact our groundwater, and the Gulf.

In Collier County, east of Naples, residents banded together to fight against the proposed Golden Gate acid fracking project in their community. Great news! In a surprise move, the Dan A. Hughes oil company withdrew its permit to drill an exploratory well adjacent to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and announced late Tuesday that it would cease drilling activity in Florida, including its well near...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 3:16pm

Senate Bill 469, legislation meant to block a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies for their damage to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, passed the Louisiana legislature in June and was signed into law by Governor Jindal, becoming Act 544. The lawsuit, brought by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, is intended to restore wetlands necessary to protect coastal communities from flooding, storm surges, and hurricanes.

Governor Jindal and a majority of legislators have abandoned the hundreds of thousands of Louisianans facing another hurricane season with inadequate storm protection and a disappearing coast. Not only have they refused to ask the oil and gas industry to live up to their legal obligations, or contribute to coastal restoration in any meaningful way, they actively blocked others from simply enforcing the law. Consequently, a greater share of the cost for coastal restoration and flood protection will fall on Louisiana taxpayers instead.

Because the...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 11:08am

This articles is excerpted from Gulf Currents, GRN's quarterly newsletter. To read the rest of the Summer 2014 edition of Gulf Currents, click here.

Participants at the Gulf Future Community Visioning Salon
in New Orleans.

Over the course of Gulf Restoration Network’s twenty-year history, we have partnered with a myriad of artists, musicians and cultural workers to organize, educate and empower communities to advocate for a healthy Gulf. In recent years, these partnerships have grown even closer.

GRN recently began a unique and inspiring cultural organizing partnership with the multidisciplinary performing arts production Cry You One. As a leader in the Gulf Future Coalition, which is a diverse coalition of groups formed in the wake of the BP disaster to protect and defend the Gulf, we worked with members of Cry You One to host a series of Community Visioning Salons...