Archive for Meetings/Events
By Will Lindsey, Environmental Defense Fund
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing Thursday (June 6) to review the progress that has been made to restore the Gulf Coast since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) chaired the hearing, titled “Gulf Restoration: A Progress Report Three Years after the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.” The hearing came nearly a year after passage of the RESTORE Act, legislation that allocates 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties from the 2010 oil spill to Gulf restoration. Both senators were cosponsors of the legislation.
Seven witnesses testified at the hearing, representing organizations responsible for managing these restoration funds – as well as the projects that will utilize these funds – that will soon begin flowing through three funding streams as a result of the 2010 spill. These streams include $2.54 billion resulting from the BP criminal settlement, an initial $800 million as a result of a Transocean settlement and $1 billion as a result of agreements with BP to fund early restoration efforts under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process. The amount of funds available under the RESTORE Act is expected to grow substantially once the ongoing civil trials with BP are complete.
Notably, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who played a vital role in passing the RESTORE Act, gave the opening remarks. In reference to the need to better understand the Gulf Coast in order to implement restoration efforts, Landrieu said, “Science can make us much better leaders, if we would just listen to our scientists and to the actual research.” Following these opening remarks, each witness provided an oral testimony on the efforts their individual organizations have taken since the spill.
In response to the first testimony by Lois Schiffer, General Counsel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sen. Nelson stressed Congress’s expectation that the administrative agencies involved with the implementation of restoration projects follow the legislative intent of Congress in enacting the law. “One of the things that we want to emphasize here is that we want you to pay attention to the law,” Nelson said. The statement came in reference to a previous comment by Sen. Landrieu indicating that the law was written in order to strike a balance between competing interests and thus a portion of the law specifically allocates a percentage of the funds solely to environmental restoration.
In the final testimony, Dr. Stephen Polasky, professor of environmental economics at the University of Minnesota, emphasized the importance of the RESTORE Act and the funding that it will provide to Gulf restoration. “Under the RESTORE Act, we can reinvest in nature to ensure the recovery of the Gulf of Mexico, so that it continues to provide benefits to current and future generations,” said Polasky.
Moving forward, it appears that Congress will be paying encouragingly close attention to the ways in which the Gulf Coast restoration money from these different funding streams is being spent. Also encouraging is the apparent intention of the recipients of these funds to work together to ensure that comprehensive restoration remains a key focal point of the ongoing efforts along the Gulf Coast. As Rachel Jacobson, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the Department of Interior, stated in her testimony, “We have a responsibility to the public to ensure that we make wise investments that are well-coordinated across the spectrum, through all funding streams.”No Comments
On April 20, 2010, 11 people lost their lives and the biggest environmental disaster in our nation's history began. Three years later, BP's oil is still here, and it continues to impact the people, places and wildlife of the Gulf.
On April 20, 2013, to mark three years of BP's ongoing disaster, local groups and citizens gathered to memorialize all that has been lost, call out BP for the ongoing effects of the spill, and take a stand to fight for justice in the Gulf.
Below is our video from that event. Watch it and share it, and be sure to follow the link at the end to take action to tell BP it's time to pay!
Coast Builders Coalition and the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign will host a telebriefing on Friday, May 3, 2013 at 11 a.m. EST. Businesses and business associations seeking an update on the RESTORE Act, Deepwater Horizon settlement and the Gulf Council are encouraged to register. These issues will impact a wide range of businesses, from the coastal restoration companies that can expect to see increased demand for their services to the tourism companies that depend on a healthy Gulf ecosystem. All businesses are welcome and urged to attend.
An expert panel will provide the latest information on the RESTORE Act, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, the Deepwater Horizon trial and key legislative developments in the state of Louisiana. Topics to be covered include:
- What can businesses expect and when?
- What opportunities do businesses have to get involved in the process?
- When can we expect the Council’s plan and what can we expect from this document?
- When can we expect the Deepwater Horizon settlement funds being administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation? What can we expect from these funds?
We will provide guidance and recommendations for what advocates for coastal restoration are looking for from the Council moving forward. Please join us for 15-20 minutes of presentation, followed by discussion.
Senior Policy Manager, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program
Environmental Defense Fund
(Formerly Legislative Assistant for Water Resources Policy for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu)
Coast Builders Coalition
Policy Analyst, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program
Environmental Defense Fund
Director, Government Relations
If you are a business and are interested in participating in this telebriefing, please register at this link.
Please email Shannon Hood (email@example.com) with Environmental Defense Fund for more information.No Comments
From CWPPRA Newsflash:
What are viable strategies for addressing our coastal erosion in light of sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes and oil spills?
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill dumped nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with Louisiana's coast receiving the greatest percentage of direct ecological damage. Three years later, a civil trial is taking place to determine the financial liability of BP and three other companies for the impact to the five Gulf states.
Eighty percent of penalties paid by the responsible parties will go toward Gulf Coast restoration. But will it be money well-spent? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently predicted that Louisiana's southeastern coast is likely to be under at least 4.3 feet of water by the end of the century. What does that mean for projects in Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast? What are viable strategies for addressing the state's coastal erosion in light of sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes and oil spills? Louisiana Public Square explores these issues and more on "Louisiana Coastal Concerns: BP and Beyond" Wednesday, April 24th at 7 p.m. CT on LPB HD, and at 9 p.m. on WLAE-TV in New Orleans.
This week, the La. Public Broadcasting TV program Louisiana Public Square focuses on "Coastal Concerns: BP and Beyond." The program will air statewide on LPB stations this Wednesday at 7 p.m. statewide, and at 9 p.m. on WLAE-TV in New Orleans.
The panelists are:
- Windell Curole, Director, South Lafourche Levee District
- Christopher D'Elia, Ph. D., Dean, LSU School of the Coast and Environment
- Garrett Graves, Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
- Mark Schleifstein, environmental reporter for The Times-Picayune
Kirby Goidel, Director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, will moderate. Beth Courtney, LPB president, will host.
You're invited to join WWNO — New Orleans Public Radio for our next SpeakEasy this Thursday, March 28, at 6:00 p.m. CT at Chickie Wah Wah in New Orleans.
Join WWNO's General Manager Paul Maassen as he moderates a discussion on environmental concerns that impact the Gulf Coast, Southeastern Louisiana and far beyond. The panel includes Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental journalist Bob Marshall and David Muth, Director, Mississippi River Delta Restoration at the National Wildlife Federation.
SpeakEasy is a new series that encourages you to join the discussion. A new topic of regional interest is introduced each month in a casual style, but with a thoughtful and well-informed panel leading the way.
It's a great way to meet other WWNO listeners, as well as some of the voices you hear on the air every day.
WWNO's SpeakEasy is free and all are welcome!
Chickie Wah Wah is located at 2828 Canal Street.No Comments
By Amanda Moore, Greater New Orleans Program Manager, National Wildlife Federation
On Wednesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe, La. for what possibly could be his last public meeting outside of Washington, D.C. Salazar said he was proud to hold the meeting in the Mississippi River Delta, adding that it is “a world-class conservation area for hunting and fishing.”
State and local government officials, fishermen and women, and non-profit leaders turned out to the refuge to meet the secretary, ask questions, and share concerns on topics ranging from coastal community and at-risk youth engagement in coastal restoration to ensuring that ecosystem restoration is the focus of BP oil disaster fines and penalties routed through the RESTORE Act.
Speaking to the BP disaster, Salazar said, “Sometimes from the hardest of times, the best of things arise. We have a great opportunity to put restoration of the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast on steroids.”
The secretary acknowledged the contribution the Gulf Coast makes to the country in terms of energy production and noted that we now have the resources to move forward with some of the major structures needed for restoration, like river diversions in the Mississippi River Delta. He said Louisiana can be one of “our best examples of ecosystem restoration.”
Mr. Secretary, we are ready to make it happen.1 Comment
By Amanda Moore, Greater New Orleans Program Manager, National Wildlife Federation
Last Thursday evening, the City of New Orleans hosted their 2nd in a series of coastal restoration public forums. Community members came to hear Drue Banta, Counsel to the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, talk about ways to advance coastal restoration in Louisiana through use of BP oil disaster funds. Ms. Banta spoke to a crowd of about 75 people, including neighborhood leaders, parish officials, landowners, fishermen, legislators, academia and non-profit leaders. The forum explored topics such as the difference between the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and the Clean Water Act, the process through which those dollars will be coming to Louisiana, and who is responsible for planning and implementation of projects with each source of funding.
Since July 2012, the coastal restoration forums, held in partnership with National Wildlife Federation, have brought New Orleans community members face to face and in direct dialogue with coastal decision-makers from the Army Corps of Engineers, the governor’s office, and staff from U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu’s office. As coastal restoration efforts continue to build momentum, National Wildlife Federation and the City of New Orleans will continue to provide these opportunities for public engagement, in an effort to inform not only the community about the latest developments, but also to inform officials closely tied to the restoration process about community concerns and interests. This communication is critical for strong project planning and a healthy coast.
Charles Allen, Director and Advisor for Coastal and Environmental Affairs with the City of New Orleans, explains the purpose of the public outreach effort. “Our goal is to keep the people in the New Orleans area informed and engaged about the many complexities of coastal restoration and the urgency of advancing the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan to protect our communities for generations to come. There is a great promise that new funding sources will eventually start to flow into our state to address this need. As a result, we feel our community should be kept informed so they can further shape the state’s coastal restoration agenda as it evolves and moves forward.”
Check back for information on future coastal restoration public forums.No Comments
By Elizabeth Skree, Communications Manager, Environmental Defense Fund
Beginning at 6 a.m. this morning, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign members and dozens of Gulf Coast supporters rallied outside the U.S. District Courthouse in New Orleans, urging the U.S. Department of Justice to hold BP fully accountable for the gulf oil disaster. As the civil trial began inside the building, Gulf Coast residents representing communities, industries and diverse sectors gathered outside, holding signs showing the spill’s destruction, reading “#makeBPpay.” The group was clad in black to symbolize BP’s grave negligence toward gulf residents and ecosystems. Campaign experts were also in attendance, providing interviews to the media.No Comments
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is holding public meetings to get public opinion on how RESTORE Act dollars should be spent, and we invite you to attend and be a voice for environmental restoration. The Restoration Council is looking for public input on their draft Comprehensive Plan for Gulf Coast restoration which will outline how RESTORE Act dollars from the BP oil spill will be translated into restoration projects.
To make the gulf whole, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council must make a concerted push for ecosystem restoration. This would be a win not just for the environment but also for the economy. Studies show that every $1 spent on ecosystem restoration generates $4 in added value throughout the economy – a win-win for communities and wildlife, especially in a region that supports a $34 billion a year tourism industry and 40 percent of all the seafood in the lower 48 states.
The Restoration Council will be hosting five public meetings across the Gulf Coast. We invite you to attend and let the Restoration Council know that you support a healthy environment AND a healthy economy.
Please RSVP and a representative from our campaign will follow up with you on the details: http://www.mississippiriverdelta.org/take-action/register-to-attend-a-public-meeting/
Tuesday, February 19, Louisiana – 5:00 PM CST
Terrebonne Civic Center, 346 Civic Center Blvd., Room 3, Houma, LA
Tuesday, February 19, Mississippi – 5:00 PM CST
Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, 2350 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS
Wednesday, February 20, Louisiana – 5:00 PM CST
University of New Orleans, Homer Hitt Alumni Center Ballroom, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA
Thursday, February 21, Louisiana – 5:00 PM CST
Lake Charles Civic Center, Jean Lafitte Room, 900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles, LA
Thursday, February 28, Florida – 6:00 PM EST
Student Union East Conference Center, Gulf Coast State College, 5230 W. U.S. 98, Panama City Beach, FL
By Ryan Rastegar and Elizabeth Skree, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign
Today, staff from Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and Earthworks hand delivered 133,501 petitions to the U.S. Department of Justice, urging them to hold BP accountable to the fullest extent of the law for the 2010 gulf oil disaster. You can see a Facebook photo album from the event by clicking the photo below.
Almost three years after the BP oil disaster, the question around BP’s accountability is about to come to a close. With a February 25 trial date looming, BP and the U.S. Department of Justice will either reach a settlement or go to trial within the next two weeks. In either situation, BP must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law for one of our nation’s largest environmental disasters. After the death of 11 men, nearly five million barrels of oil spilled, and economic and environmental damages across the gulf, it is the just and right thing to do.
An overwhelming majority of the voting public believes BP’s fines should go toward gulf restoration. Thanks to last year’s bipartisan RESTORE Act, this money will go back to the Gulf Coast states to use for environmental and economic restoration. But while the RESTORE Act is the mechanism, actual restoration cannot begin until BP pays.
What you can do to get involved: If you support our petition delivery, call the Department of Justice’s public comment line at 202-353-1555 and tell them you saw our event and that you, too, support holding BP accountable.No Comments