In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we dug deep into the GRN archives to compile our 20 most important victories of the past two decades. In this first installment, we’re highlighting our first five major victories, which span from 1995 to 2006.
#1: Action on the Dead Zone
GRN groups petitioned EPA to take Dead Zone-causing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution seriously and to form an Interstate Management Conference regarding the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone. While the petition was rejected, it served as a catalyst for the formation of the Dead Zone Task Force.
#2: Protecting Mississippi’s Coastal Wetlands
In 1998, GRN began to work to prevent casino developments in Mississippi’s fragile wetlands by hosting a tour of development projects for officials. Eventually, GRN and the Gulf Islands Conservancy filed suit on the issue, and ultimately obtained a federal court decision stating that the Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in their review of wetlands permits. Based on GRN’s efforts, the Army Corps was required to conduct a full environmental impact assessment of large-scale casino developments in coastal Mississippi before issuing permits. A few years later, we successfully prevented a series of casino and condominium developments on two of Mississippi’s vital barrier islands, Cat Island and Deer Island, which remain free of casinos to this day.
#3: Protecting Lake Pontchartrain & the Mississippi River
GRN, the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, and Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) won a federal lawsuit against the Army Corps to prevent them from dredging the Industrial Canal. This dredging would have cost $700 million and released toxic chemicals into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.
#4: Flood Washington
In the November following Hurricane Katrina, GRN created an online petition called Flood Washington, which recruited individuals across the country to send 40,000 emails to the White House and Congress calling for restoration of coastal communities. The Flood Washington Campaign went viral, engaging citizens in the need to restore Louisiana’s wetlands on an unprecedented national level.
#5: MRGO Must Go
Due to the efforts of the “MRGO Must Go” Coalition, including GRN, Louisiana’s senators spearheaded an amendment to close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and to develop a plan to restore the coastal wetlands and marshes destroyed by the channel. MRGO, which is also known as the “Hurricane Highway” because of its role in funneling Katrina’s waters into New Orleans, was closed to navigation in July of 2009.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our 20 Victories for 20 Years series, out next week. Thank you to our early supporters for making these victories possible!
Sarah Holtz is GRN’s Development Associate.