Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 

This month, I had the pleasure of touring the surge barrier with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. DSCEJ's Water Equity Group came from all five Gulf States to tour Bayou Bienvenue and discuss surge protection -- natural and unnatural. 

We toured the MR GO ship channel and discussed its potential to funnel storm surge into the City of New Orleans.


We talked about the efforts since the federal flood of Katrina to push the Army Corps to fix its mistakes. We talked about the saltwater closure of this Port and the ecological restoration blossoming all the way north to Manchac. We talked about the great Barrier which cost $2 Billion to build and more to operate. We discussed how it wasn't enough. This impressive structure was only built as high as the 1 in 100-year storm surge. This is a much...

 

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 222-193 Wednesday to pass HR 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. This  bill guts many of the core conservation measures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary federal law protecting our fisheries. This legislation now awaits a companion bill in the Senate.

Gulf Restoration Network has led the opposition to this bill in the five Gulf states, joining many fishermen, chefs, scientists and other groups. GRN opposes this bill because it removes science-based annual catch limits. The “flexibility” in fisheries management that this bill promises comes at the cost of abandoning what has been working for over 40 years. HR 200 threatens to undo many of the successes that the MSA has accomplished.

One thing is certain, the U.S.’s fisheries are significantly healthier today than the dark years leading up to...

 

The ocean has a way of bringing things together. Its many sea currents dip, dive and swirl through the Gulf of Mexico delivering critical nutrients, plants, and animals exactly where they need to be. A baby turtle slips into the tide, one of only a few to survive the short, sandy trek from the nest to water. She is immediately picked up by one of these currents and astoundingly survives the saltwater superhighway out to the open ocean...

 

Florida's beaches are monitored by County Health Departments and posted if bacterial contamination is found.

When the toilet flushes, we never expect to see it again. And we all know what I mean by “it.” Yet raw sewage is bubbling up in the streets from failing infrastructure in many Florida communities, putting public health and the environment at risk.

Raw sewage can contain various disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites—many of which can cause serious illness and even death in humans. When raw sewage reaches waterways it contaminates shellfish, adds nutrients to waterways that already have too many nutrients, and puts swimmers and others enjoying the water at-risk of illness.

Across the Florida panhandle coast where I do much of my work, failing sewage infrastructure is causing huge problems for people and the environment. We’re identifying the worst of these polluting systems and working...

 

Brown water loaded with nutrients descends on the waters around Sanibel Island, FL.

A message from Florida-Alabama coastal organizer Christian Wagley:

In order to realize a healthy and restored Gulf, GRN relies on thousands of people and organizational partners in communities all along the Gulf coast. Our friends in Southwest Florida are experiencing another epic tragedy as massive flows of freshwater are being diverted down the Caloosahatchee River to the coast to keep inland farms and communities dry. These massive flows cause major impacts as salinities drop and the growth of algae explodes, causing a cascade of negative impacts to waterways. Rae Ann Wessel of Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation brings us an update from the field, in The Caloosahatchee Conundrum.

The Caloosahatchee Conundrum

Record setting rainfall the last 2 weeks of May, 2018 flooded the entire Greater Everglades region....

 

Oiled baby endangered Kemp's Ridley Turtle

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration for Failing to Protect Gulf of Mexico Wildlife from Offshore Drilling

Agencies have failed to hold legal consultation on offshore drilling after Deepwater Horizon disaster

 

TAMPA, Fla.– Earthjustice, on behalf of three conservation groups, sued the Trump administration today for failing to complete a legally required consultation about offshore drilling’s harms to threatened and endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

The National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are required under the Endangered Species Act to complete a consultation with the Bureau...

 

Aeriel shot of the Pearl River by Bonny Schumaker

Jackson, Miss. – On June 20, 2018, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study for a dam on the Pearl River in Jackson was released by the sponsoring Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District and the non-profit Pearl River Vision Foundation. This public-private partnership has used the Foundation to lobby Congress and the Mississippi Legislature for the lake and to raise funds for the writing and review of the draft EIS. While a similar proposal was rejected by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) several years ago, the sponsors voted in 2013 to select the proposed “One Lake” as the locally preferred plan well before environmental studies were started. While this plan purports to be a response to flooding in the Jackson area, it is questionable as to its effectiveness and environmental impact. Other alternatives to flood control exist that don’t require a new 1500...

 

Seagrasses in Florida's waterways provide incredible ecological benefits to coastal ecosystems.

 

Gazing out at its usually calm waters, one would never know that Pensacola Bay is missing 90% of its seagrass—the Bay’s single most important aquatic habitat. That’s why it’s vitally important that we protect the remaining seagrass. A recent Federal decision to rebuff plans to dredge some of the remaining seagrass for a deeper boat channel for a residential subdivision shows that with citizen pressure, sound science, and proper enforcement of the law—the regulatory system can work.

Santa Rosa Sound is a shallow waterway that runs along the south side of the Bay along the north shore of Santa Rosa Island. Because of the shallow water and proximity to Pensacola pass and its flushing action, the Sound has better water quality that supports most of the area’s remaining seagrass. Throughout the rest of the Bay system decades of industrial, wastewater, and...

 
One River No Lake Coalition Smith Robertson Meeting
Standing Room at Smith Robertson Atrium Room

A Community Engagement Meeting on the flood control project for the Pearl River (One Lake and its sister alternatives) happened this past Tuesday night, April 24th in Jackson. The One River-No Lake Coalition held the meeting at the attractive Atrium room of the Smith Robertson Museum downtown two blocks west of the State Capitol. I was the presenter of a powerpoint talk on the issues and questions that the Coalition wanted to highlight.


The final slide contained this question: Why should Congress fund a project to add a dam and new lake to the Pearl River when flood control options exist that don’t further fragment the river, don’t remove as many acres of protected habitat and are less objectionable to downstream interests?


The issues and questions I raised in the presentation were not new. I have been writing blogs and one-pagers about them and using them as talking...

 

On April 19th, Gulf Restoration Network released a new report - “Oil and Gas in the Gulf of Mexico” - that reviews ongoing damages from offshore oil and gas development, announces a new tool to document GRN’s monitoring efforts, and highlights some of the most significant pollution events in 2017. The report also shares recommendations on how to protect our communities from the impacts of offshore oil and gas development.

This release comes as Gulf Coast residents look back on the legacy of the BP drilling disaster, which occured 8 years ago this week. Scientist are continuing to study the long-term impacts of BP’s oil and dispersants - including documenting damage to deep sea corals and new research on the toxic impacts of dispersants on clean up workers.

There is also a newfound concern that the Gulf will be at greater risk of major...

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Recent Posts

This month, I had the pleasure of touring the surge barrier with the Deep South...
Written by Scott Eustis
Tuesday, 17 July 2018
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 222-193 Wednesday to pass HR 200, the Strengthening Fishing...
Written by Dustin Renaud
Thursday, 12 July 2018
The ocean has a way of bringing things together. Its many sea currents dip, dive...
Written by Samm Newton
Tuesday, 10 July 2018
When the toilet flushes, we never expect to see it again. And we all know...
Written by Christian Wagley
Monday, 09 July 2018
A message from Florida-Alabama coastal organizer Christian Wagley: In order to realize a healthy and...
Written by Christian Wagley
Monday, 02 July 2018
Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration for Failing to Protect Gulf of Mexico Wildlife from Offshore Drilling...
Written by Dustin Renaud
Thursday, 21 June 2018
Jackson, Miss. – On June 20, 2018, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study for...
Written by Dustin Renaud
Thursday, 21 June 2018

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