Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 
GOMESA Mississippi Oyster Projects 2019
Oysters and marsh shoreline

In mid-March, Mississippi’s Department of Marine Resources and Governor announced two new oyster projects that will be funded by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA). The Act periodically directs revenue from oil and gas production and leasing in the Gulf of Mexico from the U.S. Department of Interior to Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. Congress allows GOMESA to provide a stream of revenue back to the states and separately to the Land and Water Conservation Fund that all states may apply to use.  

One new GOMESA-funded project allocates $1 million to Mississippi for spreading hard “cultch” material on coastal water-bottoms. This material includes clean oyster shell, rock or crushed concrete dropped to the bottom from barges to make hard beds onto which drifting larval oysters can settle, attach as tiny oyster “spat” and eventually grow...

 

An edited version of this article originally appeared on the blog of the Marine Fish Conservation Network

Advocates in the fisheries world often lament how complicated the policies are and how hard it is to explain the nuances to the general public.

Well, fisheries management is extremely esoteric and opaque when you get into the scientific nitty-gritty. But at a fundamental level, the crafting and execution of fisheries policy is the most simple thing in the world.

Fisheries are political, and politics is about power.

There was a time in my life where I believed we lived in a pluralistic society where political groups could hold differing beliefs and tolerate others who didn’t share their opinions. The differing groups would publicly debate the merits of competing ideas using a mutually acceptable common language. Undergirding this all would be a foundation of...

 

A state of water--Florida from space.

Florida is still reeling from a disastrous 2018 in which south Florida waterways suffered a double whammy of blue green algae and red tide.  Meanwhile, here in the panhandle the powerful Hurricane Michael caused historic damage and highlighted continued weaknesses in our sewage infrastructure. Now, the Florida legislature has just convened, and we’re pushing for them to help right the many wrongs of failed policies on water and growth that defined the Sunshine State last year.

If there was a silver lining at all in last year’s epic crisis of blue green algae and red tide, it’s that it happened in an election year. As such, candidates for office made plenty of promises to fix the problems of water pollution—especially the nutrient pollution and water management issues that caused the crisis.

Some...

 

Image by com77380 on Pixabay

The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington University Law School Gulf Recovery Network. The first blog in this series can be found here

On December 11, 2018, the Trump Administration published a proposed revision to the 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) Rule, which many are calling the “Dirty Water Rule”. The proposed revision sharply reduces Clean Water Act (CWA) authority over rain-dependent (ephemeral) waters and isolated waters separated by man-made or natural barriers.

The CWA’s objective is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” By stripping protections from rain-dependent waters and isolated waters, the Dirty Water Rule is jeopardizing this core purpose of the CWA.

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Pearl Resolutions Map
Counties and Parishes (shaded) opposed to "One Lake" Project

Last summer the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood Control and Drainage District published its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Feasibility Study for Pearl River Flood Control featuring the “One Lake” alternative as its preferred plan for addressing Pearl River flooding in Jackson. Ranked by cost from greatest to least, the order of alternatives was: floodplain buyouts, levee improvements, lake dredging, and finally the “no action” alternative. Comments were due on September 6th and a final EIS is being prepared now for publication sometime in 2019. The pathway to approval of that final document leads through the Washington D.C. office of the Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works.

A recent press release highlighted the costs to replace nine road bridges over the Pearl River in and around Jackson if the One Lake dredging project proceeds.  The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) pointed out in its official comment letter to the...

 

The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington University Law School Gulf Recovery Network.

On December 11, 2018, the Trump Administration submitted a proposal to drastically revise the Obama-era 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule. What is WOTUS? And why does this revision to the 2015 WOTUS Rule matter?

Background

The term “WOTUS” stems from the Clean Water Act (CWA), which has the stated objective “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” Since the Act’s creation in 1972, there has been continued confusion about which waters qualify as a “water of the United States” and allow federal authority over. This question was initially left to the Supreme Court in...

 

Along the shores of Florida's St. Joseph Bay, where the Coastal Barrier Resources System helps to protect the area from unwise development while also saving taxpayer money.

 

A bit of bipartisanship snuck into the holiday season, and thousands of acres of dunes, seagrass beds, and other coastal habitat in Florida is all the better for it. On Friday, December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law H.R. 5787—the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2018. Out of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators, only one nay vote was cast.

The bill helps to protect coastal areas along the Florida Gulf coast and beyond, using modern mapping techniques that correct and expand the boundaries of the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS). The CBRS consists of hundreds of undeveloped coastal areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts where Federal taxpayer funds may not be used to subsidize development due to the risky and environmentally-sensitive nature of those areas. That means no artificially-cheap Federal flood insurance, beach nourishment...

 

The United States Senate on December 17 passed S. 1520, “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017.” Kendall Dix, fisheries organizer of Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), released the following statement in response to today’s Senate floor vote.

“From the beginning, GRN’s position has been that any update to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), our nation’s landmark fisheries law, should have been done in a comprehensive reauthorization bill.

While we are disappointed that the Senate rushed to take action during the lame duck session, the state of the bill is in better shape now than when it first came out of committee. Many of the poison pills were left on the cutting room floor, but we still have much work to do in the 116th Congress to pass a full reauthorization bill that would actually improve and strengthen the law.

GRN...

 

Localized flooding Uptown, New Orleans

Flood Less New Orleans is committed to engaging and mobilizing a variety of constituencies—including low-income communities and communities of color—to persuade the City of New Orleans to strategize and implement new measures that will help New Orleans flood less.

2018 has been a record year for green infrastructure and stormwater management in the Greater New Orleans area. The new city administration is making it a priority to grow the effort.  In fact, the New Orleans Data Center assesses the water economy as potentially one of our fastest growing economic drivers.  How do we grow our workforce and local businesses to serve our water economy needs and lead the world in green infrastructure? We are working with our partner, Launch NOLA  to grow jobs and partner with small family businesses that fill the need. Watch this short video below to find out how.

 

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Woody goldenrod blooms along the dunes at Deer Lake State Park in the Florida panhandle. The area is part of the Coastal Barrier Resources System.

 

The House of Representatives actually got something right. In an age of growing frustration at political divisions that create legislative gridlock, the House did something that most citizens say they want more of: They passed a bipartisan bill. Even better—it’s one that’s good for our environment and the Gulf of Mexico.

In this case, H.R. 5787--the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act-- passed by a landslide vote of 375 – 1. The bill helps to protect coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, using modern mapping techniques to correct and expand the boundaries of the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS). The CBRS consists of hundreds of undeveloped coastal areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts where federal taxpayer funds may not be used to subsidize development due to the risky and environmentally-sensitive nature of those areas.

The program has...

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Recent Posts

In mid-March, Mississippi’s Department of Marine Resources and Governor announced two new oyster projects that...
Written by Andrew Whitehurst
Friday, 22 March 2019
An edited version of this article originally appeared on the blog of the Marine Fish...
Written by Kendall Dix
Friday, 22 March 2019
Florida is still reeling from a disastrous 2018 in which south Florida waterways suffered a...
Written by Christian Wagley
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington...
Written by Guest Blogger
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Last summer the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood Control and Drainage District published its Draft...
Written by Andrew Whitehurst
Wednesday, 06 February 2019
The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington...
Written by Guest Blogger
Thursday, 10 January 2019
A bit of bipartisanship snuck into the holiday season, and thousands of acres of dunes,...
Written by Christian Wagley
Tuesday, 08 January 2019

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