Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 4:41pm
Frontline voices pose for a photo at New Orleans' historic Golden Feather
From left to right: Mr. McKibben, Chief Dardar, Ms. Vu, Dr. Wright, and Ms. Pichon Battle

This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to attend Gulf South Rising’s “media-only event” at the historic Golden Feather in New Orleans. Entitled ‘Coffee and Conversation on Climate Change,’ the early-morning gathering featured a panel discussion moderated by Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy.

As a regional movement highlighting the climate crisis, Gulf South Rising elevates and amplifies the voices of those most affected by the fossil-fuel status quo. Accordingly, various frontline communities were embodied by Saturday’s honored guests: Dr. Beverly Wright, Founding Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University; Thao Vu, Director of the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisherfolk and Families; Chief Thomas Dardar, Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation; and Bill McKibben, Founder of

For roughly an hour, panelists discussed the direct consequences of climate change and questioned whether the post-Katrina...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 2:21pm
Biloxi 10 Year Commemorative Potluck Dinner and Storytelling
Guests visit in front of the Story Wall at Biloxi's Katrina 10 Year Potluck Night

The Steps Coalition invited GRN to participate in a Katrina 10 year commemorative Potluck Dinner and Story Telling night at the Biloxi Community Center on the evening of August 24th. Around 150 people attended the event that included a 60 foot-long story wall, five inspiring guest speakers from the communities of Biloxi, good food, prayers, and remembrances for lives lost.

Fifteen non-profit and community based organizations participated.  Resilience, persistence and faith were on display in shared stories of those who were faced with digging out of the debris and destruction to rebuild or move. University of Southern Mississippi professor and author, James Patterson Smith spoke of the  community organizing that happened out of necessity in the wake of the storm. He spoke about a constant fight for inclusion for those who don’t have lobbyists and corporate power. Coast residents organized with the leadership of the NAACP, Steps Coalition, Mississippi...

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 11:56am
Tidal Flats, Galveston Bay (2015)

Galveston, a sister city to New Orleans on the Gulf Coast, has always played the role of one of the premier beach get-a-ways on the Texas Coast. Old town charm, mixed with eclectic appeal – this barrier island city was once a premier port along the Gulf Coast. However, the emergence of the Houston ship channel and port has now taken precedence as one of the most productive ports in the U.S. This has lead to Galveston relying mostly on tourism – taking advantage of all that the Gulf of Mexico has to offer.

In 2006, the GRN and Sierra Club released The School of Big Storms, a report that looked at communities across the Gulf to see what they have been doing to strengthen or weaken their protection from storms. Galveston is no stranger to hurricanes. At the turn of the twentieth century, Galveston experienced one of the...

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 1:25pm

Flood WashingtonAcross the nation, we 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 Gulf.

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 still at risk a decade later. Take action and tell federal & state politicians to protect the Gulf’s coast and communities and hold industry accountable.

After the storms in 2005, Gulf Restoration Network called on supporters like you to “Flood Washington” with messages calling for a federal commitment to rebuilding our coasts and communities - over 40,000 people responded. Politicians listened, taking action to shore up levee systems, close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet which funneled storm surge into...

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:56am
Slick from Taylor Energy
Slick from Taylor Energy well off coast of Louisiana, which has been leaking since Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in 2006 the Gulf Restoration Network and the Sierra Club released a report entitled The School of Big Storms: The High Cost of Compromising Our Natural Defenses and the Benefits of Protecting Them. The report took a look at communities across the Gulf to see what they have been doing to strengthen or weaken their protection from storms. The report aimed to find out: What lessons have we learned? Have we made our communities safer and better able to withstand storms over time? If not, what needs to be done to ensure our safety? Among the issues we analyzed is the ability of critical energy infrastructure to withstand the destructive forces of a Category 5 hurricane. Fast forward to today and the security of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure very much remains in doubt. 

The nation’s energy system is extremely interconnected meaning...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 12:08pm

Gulf South RisingTen years ago, Hurricane Katrina ripped into the Gulf Coast and changed everything.

Today, we are still struggling with the impacts of Hurricane Katrina and the social, environmental and economic wreckage left in the wake of the storm.

People from across the nation are looking to New Orleans to see how the city and its people are doing 10 years after Hurricane Katrina. How are we doing? A decade later, we need an equitable and complete recovery of our coast and our communities.

This week, GRN is standing with Gulf South Rising to lift up the local leadership and resistance of people who continue to fight on the frontlines of climate, economic and racial justice. Gulf South Rising is a regional movement created to highlight the impact of the global climate crisis in the Gulf South Region....

Friday, August 21, 2015 - 10:24am

MRGO Coalition releasing report
The MRGO Coalition releasing "10th Anniversary of Katrina: Making New Orleans a Sustainable Delta City of the Next Century"

On Monday, August 10th, GRN and other members of the MRGO Must Go Coalition joined community members at the Bayou Bienvenue viewing platform in the Lower 9th Ward to mark 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated our region, and release a new report: 10th Anniversary of Katrina: Making New Orleans a Sustainable Delta City of the Next Century.

In the report, we outlined some of the central failures that led to the extensive damage in the Greater New Orleans area (including the loss of thousands of acres of coastal wetlands that act as natural lines of defense against storm surge), assessed the progress made and issued a set of recommendations for ensuring New Orleans and surrounding communities are more sustainable....

Thursday, August 20, 2015 - 11:38am
Pearl River's Flow Reaches Estuary at Pearlington
The Pearl River Meets the Estuary Below U.S. Hwy 90 Bridge at Pearlington

About a month after BP’s settlement with the Gulf States and the Federal Government, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released its first group of proposed projects in a Draft Funded Priorities List (FPL). There is a mix of state-based and Gulf-wide projects. There are five projects that focus on restoration, research and education in Mississippi, and several projects with a regional focus containing components that include Mississippi. The Council’s newly published Draft FPL contains a much needed project that supports the study and protection of river-flows to the Gulf. This fresh water flow investigation project is in the Gulf-wide projects in the Category 1 grouping. Category 1 gets funded first, while Category 2 projects are held in reserve. The project would fund planning for study of base-line river flows, analysis of stream gages to measure flows in rivers across the five Gulf States, and develop an on-line flow measurement...

Friday, August 14, 2015 - 10:24am

Katrina 10It has been almost ten years since Hurricane Katrina, one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the US, devastated the Gulf and shook the nation.

In its wake, Katrina left major environmental, social, and economic wreckage throughout the Gulf. A decade later, we have worked hard to rebuild our lives and our communities. However, from climate-fueled sea level rise to the continued disappearance of our natural storm defenses to the displacement of many Gulf residents, our communities are still at risk and our people are still fighting for better lives and livelihoods.

We have not forgotten Hurricane Katrina, and we are sure you have not either.

Throughout this month, Gulf Restoration Network will be working to tell the real story from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – the lessons we learned, ongoing problems, real progress made...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 5:50pm
Louisiana Cypress

With new wetland-destroying schemes offered by the fossil-fuel industry every week here in coastal Louisiana, it’s quite easy to develop a sort of ‘enviro-fatigue.’ Most recently, Maurepas Pipeline LLC has exemplified the nonsensical with its plans to lay more than 100 miles of pipe through the Maurepas Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

All told, this particular potential project would destroy over 335 acres of priceless Cypress forest. Just fewer than 200 of these acres would fall within the WMA, an expanse ironically dedicated to preserving nature.

The proposed Maurepas Pipeline System involves three segments: a 35-mile pipeline set to run from outside Convent to Norco, a matching 35-mile counterpart to move the opposite east-to-west direction, and a final section expected to travel 34 miles west-to-east from the west bank of Saint James Parish to Norco. Together, these stretches of steel will form what’s also branded as the ‘Louisiana Refining System.’