Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 5:34pm
Kemper Power Plant with Recycled Meridian Wastewater Reservoir at right

At the MDEQ Environmental Permit Board’s August 2014 meeting,  we presented GRN’s comments which asked the Board to require fecal coliform bacteria monitoring for any discharges from the reservoir at the Kemper IGCC power plant. This reservoir holds Meridian’s treated municipal waste water at the end of a 41-mile pipeline. Kemper buys this water to make steam for generating electricity. MDEQ permit engineers maintained that no reasonable potential existed for pollution from human waste in emergency discharges from the reservoir into Chickasawhay Creek, 6 miles upstream of Okatibbee Lake, a popular state lake.

The Permit Board over-ruled the engineers, amended their permit, and will make Mississippi Power answer the bacteria question by requiring them to monitor for fecal coliform bacteria in emergency discharges. The reservoir has already discharged twice during normal plant construction, not during emergencies. The Power Company was cited by MDEQ for violations for these discharges. The permit...

Friday, August 22, 2014 - 4:28pm
Canvassers on turf
Canvass team on their way out to turf. Credit: Amanda Clesi

The past four months as a member of Gulf Restoration Network’s Summer Outreach Team was nothing short of an adventurous roller coaster ride. There was sweat, blood, and tears shed in my fight to restore the Gulf Coast.   The sweat, of course, was a product of the sweltering southern heat that only momentarily let up for afternoon showers.  Fortunately blood only appeared a time or two when the New Orleans sidewalks interrupted the hasty pace that most canvassers try to keep, ultimately leading to a fall and brush burns.  And the tears, oh the tears, they came to visit during my moments of emotional passion to ensure that the Gulf remains the home to communities of all species, shapes, and sizes.

Being an activist and Outreach Team leader is a very fulfilling job.  I had the opportunity to build public support to continue holding BP accountable and ensure that Clean Water Act Fine dollars are properly allocated to real coastal restoration.  Having a one-on-one conversation at a person’s doorstep, believe it or not, is a highly effective way of spreading knowledge and empowering people to get involved.  This allows us as individuals to band together and have our voices heard. 

Friday, August 22, 2014 - 1:27pm
Click here to take action

We’re at a make or break moment for the Gulf’s restoration in the wake of the BP disaster. The RESTORE Council, which is tasked with overseeing how potentially billions of dollars in Clean Water Act fines from the BP disaster will be spent, has released guidelines for choosing restoration projects. Instead of ensuring public participation and transparency in project selection, these guidelines open the door for backroom deals and pork barrel politics.

Tell the Chair of the RESTORE Council to ensure that the public has a say in Gulf restoration!

Gulf coast residents know all too well what happens when out-of-touch politicians and bureaucrats are allowed to make backroom deals about how restoration dollars are spent. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just restore the Gulf to what it was before BP’s oil fouled our waters, but to make it more resilient and sustainable for future...

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 3:33pm
RESTORE Council
RESTORE Council Meeting in August 2013.

Today, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) released project submission guidelines for funding projects and proposals under the Council’s Comprehensive Plan. The Council, which was created under the RESTORE Act, is tasked with overseeing how potentially billions of dollars in Clean Water Act fines from the BP Disaster will be spent.

“For years, members of the Gulf Future Coalition have been pushing for public engagement and transparency in how the fines from the BP disaster are spent. We’re discouraged and quite frankly shocked to see an utter disregard for the demands of community members in these proposed project submission release guidelines,” said Jayeesha Dutta, Coordinator of the Gulf Future Coalition. “The people of the Gulf coast whose way of life and livelihoods have been most affected by the BP disaster must have a seat at the decision making table.”

In a...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 11:46am
A black sponge laying amongst coral in the McGrail Bank region  of the Gulf of Mexico.
A black sponge laying amongst coral in the McGrail Bank region of the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: NURC/UNCW and NOAA/FGBNMS.

Beneath the Gulf’s sparkling waters, there lays a largely unseen world made up of hundreds of spectacular, unique ecosystems that are hotbeds of biodiversity. Recently a report by the Marine Conservation Institute, entitled “Gulf Gems: Treasured Places in Troubled Waters,” highlighted ten of the most spectacular of these ecological gems. The featured ecosystems include: 

  • Pulley Ridge, the deepest known photosynthetic coral reef off the continental U.S.—found 200 feet below the ocean surface — which is vibrantly colored and inhabited by more than 60 species of fish; 
  • Madison Swanson, Steamboat Lumps and The Edges off the Gulf coast of Florida, consisting of limestone cliffs and rocky outcrops that support arrow and hermit crabs, basket stars, sea fans and Oculina coral;
  • Viosca Knolls, a conglomeration of deep sea coral communities due south of Mobile and 1,640 feet beneath the ocean’s surface that support a range of diversity generally only seen in shallow
  • ...
Monday, August 18, 2014 - 3:58pm
unbackfilled oil canal, a scar on the landscape

Louisiana needs to address the problem of abandoned oilfield sites.  Individuals and organizations can submit formal comments to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to apply the law on abandonment of oilfield sites.

Oilfield sites have scarred Louisiana for generations, becoming worse in spite of DNR efforts. 

Although Louisiana law and regulations require companies to “plug-and-abandon” non-producing sites, regulations have included large loopholes. Coupled with weak enforcement, this has led to thousands of useless open canals. 

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor recently released a report condemning DNR’s oversight of these sites. This report has sparked a 'rulemaking'--DNR recognizes that it needs to close the loopholes that allow oil and gas companies to shirk their duties to the public trust. 

The Green Army has drafted extensive comments on the shortcomings of the existing rules and...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 2:37pm

This articles is excerpted from Gulf Currents, GRN's quarterly newsletter. To read the rest of the Summer 2014 edition of Gulf Currents, click here.


A platform making its way down one of many channels in Terrebonne Parish, LA. Photo: Jonathan Henderson, GRN. Flight provided by Southwings.org.

Many coastal advocates are reeling after Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana state legislature dealt a blow to a heroic effort to hold the oil industry accountable for the role they have played in destroying Louisiana’s coastal wetlands and increasing the vulnerability of New Orleans and other coastal communities to the impacts of powerful storms and floods.

Of course, this is not Gulf Restoration Network’s first time supporting accountability for the oil industry.

In 2007, GRN headed up a coalition effort – working with groups from Greenpeace to the Louisiana Shrimp...

Monday, August 11, 2014 - 3:02pm

Daniel McCool begins each chapter of River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers with a verse from the 19th century romantic poet William Cullen Bryant’s hymn to nature, “Green River.” If McCool’s book is his own hymn to America’s rivers, history and environmental policy are among his poetic devices.

McCool, who serves as the director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program at the University of Utah, describes a movement that has emerged in the past twenty years among grassroots river organizations to challenge the status quo of water policy. 

McCool’s writing is fluid and illustrative, incorporating poetry and music at times, which makes it a particularly enjoyable read. His personal narratives also supplement the secondary research of the book, reminding us what we each have at stake in protecting our rivers. 

McCool evokes a hopeful tone for the future of America’s scenic rivers by chronicling this “new...

Monday, August 4, 2014 - 12:00am

New Orleans, LA—Today scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium released their annual measurement of the Gulf Dead Zone, which measured 5,008 square miles, almost as large as the state of Connecticut.. LUMCON has been measuring the Dead Zone since 1985, and this year’s Dead Zone is three times larger than the Dead Zone Task Force’s 2015 goal. 

“While it is known that Louisiana is not one of the top contributors of Dead Zone-causing pollution, that is where the biggest impacts are felt,” said Matt Rota, Senior Policy Director for the Gulf Restoration Network. “Despite this impact, Louisiana is simply not doing enough to make upriver polluters stop polluting the Gulf.”

In February of this year, the Louisiana Attorney General, along with several other Attorneys General filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief, opposing a dead zone pollution clean-up plan for Chesapeake Bay, despite support from states that would be impacted by the...

Sunday, August 3, 2014 - 12:00am

Sunday, I went out with Public Laboratory's Mat Lippincott to map a marsh restoration built by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.  

And it's great to see these plants take off!  Plants that are more protected have been growing more vigorously at this beachfront at the Lake. It normally takes plants up to two years to grow into clumps this large, but here we've seen clumps at a mere three months. 

This video was taken by wideangle lens camera on a pole, to give it a 30 foot perspective that you can't normally see. Check it out!

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Scott Eustis is GRN's Coastal Wetland Specialists....

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