NEW ORLEANS, LA – Across the Gulf South, residents are marking 10 years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared ashore, leaving a path of devastation in their wake and revealing serious environmental, economic and social vulnerabilities in the region. As part of this commemoration, Gulf Restoration Network is joining the members of Gulf South Rising, a coordinated regional movement created to highlight the impact of the global climate crisis on the Gulf South region, for a week of action culminating in New Orleans’ Armstrong Park on August 29th.
In 2005 after the storm, Gulf Restoration Network asked citizens to “Flood Washington” with messages calling for a federal commitment to rebuilding our coasts and communities; over 40,000 people responded. As outlined in the MRGO Must Go Coalition’s recent report, progress has been made, including the rebuilding and strengthening of the storm surge risk reduction system for the Greater New Orleans area, the closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), and the development of plans (like the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan and the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program) to restore our natural lines of defense. However, the New Orleans area is still waiting for a storm surge risk reduction system that can withstand a hurricane like Katrina, wetlands destroyed by MRGO have yet to be restored, and coastal restoration plans lack the funding they need to be fully implemented.
From the continued disappearance of our coastal lines of defense to climate change-fueled sea level rise to oil and gas spills, our communities are more vulnerable than ever.
According to scientific studies, 36 to 89% of Louisiana’s coastal land loss is related to oil, gas and navigation impacts, including the thousands of miles of pipelines and canals that have been carved through the coast. Combine coastal land loss, subsidence rate estimates and sea level rise, and Louisiana is facing the highest relative sea level rise in the world. Louisiana isn’t alone. Across the Gulf, communities are threatened by rising seas and more frequent and powerful storms, with some experts citing Florida as one of the most vulnerable states.
Yet, many of our representatives in Washington and statehouses across the Gulf continue to shield the oil and gas industry from financial responsibility for its destruction, and prevent attempts to reduce the impacts of climate change.
10 years later, it’s time to once again “Flood Washington” and state politicians with the demands that they commit to protecting the Gulf’s coast and communities and hold industry accountable. As we commemorate 10 years since Katrina and Rita, we’re calling on our leaders to:
Any portion of this statement may be quoted with attribution to Raleigh Hoke, Campaign Director, Gulf Restoration Network.
Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) is a 21-year-old non-profit dedicated to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the health of the Gulf of Mexico.
 Oliver Houck, The Reckoning: Oil and Gas Development in the Louisiana Coastal Zone, Tulane Environmental Law Journal (Summer 2015), page 205.