Just in time to celebrate the end of our 20th year as an environmental advocacy group in the Gulf, here’s the final installment of our four-part 20 Victories for 20 Years series. Over the past three years, we’ve had several major successes in our campaigns to combat environmentally destructive development, protect wildlife and coastal communities, and ensure that state and federal funding is directed to effective coastal restoration in the Gulf. Read on to learn more…
#16: Protecting and Rebuilding Mississippi’s Wetlands
After being contracted by a local resident whose home had started flooding regularly, GRN investigated the “Town of Stennis” development, and realized that the developers had filled in hundreds of acres of wetlands without a permit. GRN filed a lawsuit over this illegal filling of wetlands and obtained a settlement that transferred over 200 acres of land to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain for conservation and set aside monies to restore the wetlands that were illegally destroyed and filled.
#17: State Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast
After receiving input from scientists, restoration experts, and the public (including GRN), the state legislature passed a plan to restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. The plan integrates a coastal lines of defense strategy that includes the restoration of natural defenses like barrier islands and coastal wetlands with adaptive management strategies.
#18: The RESTORE Act
In the summer of 2012, Congress passed the RESTORE Act to ensure BP’s eventual Clean Water Act fines are directed to recovery of the Gulf. GRN collected and sent thousands of petitions to Congress members supporting the legislation. The Act marked a cornerstone victory for GRN, as we’ve been working since the disaster to ensure that BP is held accountable for their damage to the Gulf Region.
#19: Protecting Whales and Dolphins
GRN helped to ensure a temporary protection for Gulf dolphins and whales caused by loud, underwater sound blasts from seismic testing by the oil and gas industry. These sound blasts endanger the reproductive health and habitat of these marine mammals. GRN has been engaged in an ongoing effort to bring about permanent federal action to limit seismic testing to permanently protect Gulf whales and dolphins.
#20: No Drilling in Mississippi’s Waters
Mississippi’s barrier islands are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and are nationally designated wilderness areas that bring many people to the Gulf’s white sand beaches. Why would we sully a national park with drilling rigs? In response to a lawsuit filed by GRN and Sierra Club, the state courts blocked the Mississippi’s plan to offer gas leases in state waters, since the state didn’t consider the effects drilling would have on the people and environment of the coast.
20 Victories for 20 Years series:
Victories #1-5 here
Victories #6-10 here
Victories #11-15 here
Thank you for keeping up with our victories series, and to all of our supporters, coalition partners, and allies who helped to bring about these critical achievements for our environment and communities. Here’s to the next 20 years!
Sarah Holtz is GRN’s Development Associate.