Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA)’s “Coastal Connections on the Water” event in on September 12 in Buras, LA, was illuminating in more ways than one. 

For someone like me who has a 101-level knowledge of sediment diversions, I came away with more engineering knowledge than I started with and a firmer belief that large-scale projects that more closely mimic nature--like the Mid-Barataria diversion--can work. If we are going to combat the catastrophic land loss we created with our levee systems and extractive industries, we’re going to need every tool in the toolbox.  

But if part of CPRA’s and co-hosts the Restore the Mississippi Delta Coalition’s purpose of the event was to seem more engaged with the citizens of Plaquemines Parish, as their event flyer indicated, I fear the presentation and...

 

This article originally appeared on the blog of Marine Fish Conservation Network. It was reprinted with permission.  

What does fisheries policy have to do with an indigenous nation’s campaign for federal recognition, a women-led grassroots organization’s fight to keep their bodies free from a dangerous isotope called tritium, the battle over water privatization taking place in Nigeria (and globally), and Puerto Rico’s struggle to rebuild after Hurricane Maria?

Everything, as it turns out.

Or at least that was one of my big takeaways from this year’s Bayou Rising, a gathering in Dulac, LA, jointly hosted by the United Houma Nation and the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy. The three-day workshop/conference brought together organizers from all over the South and the world to meet each other, fish together, eat together, sweat together (imagine a gym in south Louisiana in late July with no air conditioning), and...

 

[[GUEST BLOG]] You can see more of Julie Dermansky's in-depth stories and photos on this crisis as well as other environmental issues at DeSmog Blog: https://www.desmogblog.com/user/julie-dermansky

By Julie Dermansky • Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 15:57

“Covering stuff up doesn’t make it go away,” said Lilly Womble, an 18-year-old on vacation on Florida’s Sanibel Island. The island is world renowned for its sea shells but that day we were watching employees from the Sanibel Moorings Resort pull a sheet over a dead loggerhead sea turtle on the beach behind the hotel. One of the men covering the turtle said that people had seen it long enough, and he didn’t want it to scare kids.

“I think it is better if kids see what we are doing to the planet,” Womble told me. “Maybe seeing the dead turtle will make them pay attention to the environment.”...

 
Slidell Public Meeting on One Lake Project
Slidell Public Meeting on One Lake project Aug 16 2018

Last week two things happened to place the One Lake Project under more public scrutiny.  First, on Thursday Aug 16th, the attorney and contractors for the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood Control and Drainage District, involved in the writing of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the One Lake Project, went to Baton Rouge. They were invited there by Senator Sharon Hewitt and the members of the Joint Senate House Lower Pearl River Ecosystem Task Force to make a presentation about the proposed Pearl River lake dredging project. The Task Force has agency members from LDEQ, CPRA, LDWF, LDOT, and LDNR plus Chairwoman Sen. Sharon Hewitt, Rep. Malinda White, Sen. Beth Mizell, Perry Talley from the Washington Parish Council and Gina Campo who represents St. Tammany Parish President Brister.

On Thursday morning during the presentation, Senator Hewitt began asking Drainage District attorney Keith Turner to pause and let her get...

 
Pearlington Public Meeting for One Lake project
Pearlington Meeting

This Thursday August 16th, the last two meetings for public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Pearl River “One Lake” project take place in Louisiana. Both are public meetings. One is in Baton Rouge in Senate Meeting Room “E” at the State Capitol at 10:30 a.m. Then, Thursday night the fourth and final public meeting takes place at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium at 6-8 p.m. These meetings, except for the Senate's meeting in Baton Rouge, have been hosted by the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District – a two county Levee Board, situated in the city of Flowood, near Jackson, Ms.

Yesterday, August 13th in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Senator Sharon Hewitt convened the Joint House Senate Lower Pearl River Ecosystem Task Force members to hear the preliminary comments on the draft EIS from the state agency members of the task force: LDWF, CPRA,...

 
St James HELP organization and allies
St James HELP organization and allies

It is no secret that some of Louisiana’s leading industries are in oil, natural gas, and chemicals. Our state is the third largest producer of petroleum in the country and, on top of that, we have  the largest concentration of crude oil refineries. We also ship out more than $14 billion worth of chemicals each year. Needless to say, a lot of Louisiana's revenue comes from these industries. But at what cost?

Economics looks at how a country decides to use their scarce resources in the best way possible. And that decision is made by determining what to produce, how to produce it, and who to produce it for. Ideally, government actors answer these questions while keeping two important things in mind. First, the maintenance of our environment. Second, the health and well-being of our society. But that is not the case when you look at the locations of most...

 

I should start this story with a hook. Something spectacular.
I could take a step back and remind you of the 140 million gallons of crude oil ‘released’ by Pemex into the Gulf in 1979. I could reiterate the devastating loss of human life and environmental suffering caused by Deepwater Horizon.

I could. But I'm not going to. It doesn’t tell the whole story. And, unless you live in one of the five Gulf states, or work for the petrochemical industry, these leading stories are eventually forgotten.

The truth about oil and gas in the Gulf can’t be understood through a few choice stories that make good headlines. The story of the Gulf is best told through the spills that happen every day; the ones that don’t make the front page or national news. Daily disappointments make it clear that governance in the Gulf is different. The Gulf  is a...

 
Protect the Pearl

There is major opportunity coming up for you to weigh-in on the destructive “One Lake” plan, which involves creating a new dam and lake on the Pearl River near Jackson, Mississippi. Among other things, this project will impact flooding and water quantity downstream, fill 1800 acres of floodplain wetlands, and likely impact the restoration of oysters reefs in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District, which is sponsoring the project, is taking public comments right now on a draft Environmental Impact Statement and there are two public meetings happening near you. Here are the details:

August 2, 6-8 pm, at the Infinity Science Center (1 Discovery Cir, Pearlington, MS 39572)
August 16, 6-8 pm, at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium (2056 2nd St, Slidell, LA 70458)

Email me if you have any questions or need more info. Click here for more information on the...

 
Pearl River MWF Magazine Article Summer 2018
Author at Hwy 90 Bridge over Pearl at Pearlington

I have seen both ends of the Pearl River and there is something about it that pulls at my memory and conscience. I spent many happy hours fishing the marshes of Lake Borgne in Louisiana with my father. The Pearl empties into the Mississippi Sound and Lake Borgne, and its fresh water plays a big part in maintaining moderate  salinities in the Biloxi Marshes of St. Bernard Parish and coastal waters surrounding the mouth of the river in Hancock County and St. Tammany Parish. The redfish, trout, flounder, sheepshead, croakers and crabs that we caught in Lake Borgne during our 20 years of Shell Beach fishing trips owed much to the river’s influence on the estuary.


I’ve visited the river’s headwaters too. I was fortunate enough to be taken by the tribal lands manager for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to see the origin of the Pearl River...

 
Abandoned Mines to Wetlands

Abandoned sand and gravel mines have the potential to make flooding events more severe. But restoring these mines can create recreational, economic, and ecological wins...

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