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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!
This story was originally posted on CNN.
By David Yarnold, President, National Audubon Society
Special to CNN
Updated 8:01 AM EST, Tue March 5, 2013
(CNN) – BP showed up in court last week, finally, nearly three years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the hell it unleashed on the Gulf Coast. It's a huge, high-stakes trial, and BP is taking the beating it's earned. Here's what's at stake for America if there is a judgment: potentially tens of billions of dollars that will be used to create jobs while restoring some of our most productive and vulnerable natural places.
Whether the trial results in a decision or a settlement, the outcome will send a signal about how serious this country is about enforcing its common-sense rules that guarantee clean air and waters.
BP and its partners have already confessed to criminal negligence in the 2010 blowout that killed 11 men and gushed nearly 5 million barrels of oil. Every part of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, from the deep-sea corals to dolphins to migratory birds, was… (continue reading on CNN.com: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/05/opinion/yarnold-bp/index.html).No Comments
By Emily Guidry Schatzel, Communications Manager, National Wildlife Federation
Recent news reports suggest that the potential for compromise exists in the case of Mardi Gras Pass, the newest known distributary of the Mississippi River. The pass was discovered in 2012 when the river cut a channel through its bank in the Bohemia Spillway, a stretch without levees, giving an exciting and rare view at how a natural delta system operates.
While the pass promises ecological prosperity for the delta, the newly enlarged channel washed out the private road that one local oil company uses to access its facilities. The company has since applied for a permit to rebuild that road. Coastal restoration advocates believe that the current plan to rebuild will effectively close the Mardi Gras Pass and will eliminate encouraging ecological benefits that scientists from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation have been monitoring since the channel’s development.
This video further explains the debate over keeping the pass open, and alternatives for compromise. The key takeaway? Whether it be construction of a bridge, or another reasonable alternative that gives the oil company access while allowing Mother Nature to literally “run its course,” this is clearly an issue that requires the full attention of key decision-makers so that the best long-term solution is achieved.
As Dr. John Lopez, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation — the organization that discovered the pass in 2012 — said, “It’s the kind of thing that most scientists sit in their offices there, dreaming how it might happen. Here, you can actually see it.” Keeping Mardi Gras Pass open is important — it’s a chance for the river to reconnect with its wetlands, which is exactly what the river is designed to do.1 Comment
Last Friday on Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s (LPB) “Louisiana: The State We’re In,” panelists representing impacted families, state communities and the environment discussed the recent Department of Justice announcement of an unprecedented $4.5 billion BP criminal case settlement for BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, plus ongoing impacts and restoration needs.
Panelists included: Keith Jones, whose son was among the eleven killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion; Melanie Driscoll, Director of Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society’s Mississippi Flyway and Gulf of Mexico; and Garret Graves of the Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority of Louisiana.
Show: Louisiana: The State We're In
Airing: Check your local listings and lpb.org for additional viewings.
Description: BP has agreed to pay the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill two and a half years ago. A panel of experts will discuss the topic including Garret Graves with the Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority of Louisiana; Keith Jones, whose son was among the eleven killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion; and Melanie Driscoll with the National Audubon Society.
Website: http://www.lpb.org/programs/swi/No Comments
By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund
If anyone can sympathize with the Northeast as it recovers from Hurricane Sandy, it’s the residents of New Orleans. I found this out firsthand on recent trip to Louisiana.
While Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeast, I was in South Louisiana with Environmental Defense Fund’s Creative Director, Nicole Possin, working on a video about wetlands restoration in the Mississippi River Delta. We’d planned the trip long before we knew about Sandy, and the irony of being in Louisiana while a hurricane hit the Northeast was not lost on us. I live in Washington, and Nicole lives in Brooklyn and owns a house in Asbury Park, NJ — an area severely hit by the storm. In Louisiana, it was in the 70s and sunny, making it hard to believe a tropical storm was hitting the East Coast. Needless to say, we were glued to the news.
As we talked with people throughout the state, we were met with greetings of sympathy, understanding and encouragement for us and our neighbors back home. “We’ve been through this before, and you’re going to get through it, too” was a common sentiment. “Rebuilding is going to take time, but as long as you have the people you love nearby, it will be OK” was another. It was comforting and touching to hear such kind words from strangers, especially from people who have been through numerous natural disasters.
Louisianans have experienced more than their fair share of hurricanes, including Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, Lee and most recently, Isaac. We met with people who’d lost their homes in those storms — sometimes not once, but twice. In many parts of New Orleans and south Louisiana, people are still rebuilding their houses, businesses and communities — years later.
Yet despite all this, there is a strong sense of hope and resiliency among the people of South Louisiana.
We took to the streets with our camera and helped local residents send messages of empathy and encouragement to the people of the Northeast. The result was this video, “Postcards from New Orleans: Hope for the Northeast.” Please share it with others and feel free to leave your own message in the comments section below. This video is the first in a series, so please check back for future installments.
- Postcards from New Orleans: A video for the Northeast (Environmental Defense Fund)
More than 100 Gulf Coast cities, municipalities, economic development groups and chambers of commerce urge Congress to pass RESTORE ActMay 30, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in BP Oil Disaster, Clean Water Act, Congress, Media Resources, Meetings/Events, RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act, Seafood, Videos
Yesterday, 118 leaders representing cities, municipalities, economic development groups and chambers of commerce from all five gulf states sent a joint letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to pass the RESTORE Act. If passed, the RESTORE Act would direct the majority of fines paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil spill back to Gulf Coast communities.
Both the Senate and House have passed versions of the RESTORE Act as part of their transportation bills. The legislation would dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties from the gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast environmental and economic restoration.
“Though the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was two years ago, many in the fishing and oil and gas communities are still building back after suffering tremendous economic and personal loss,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The RESTORE Act provisions in the final transportation bill are vital to Louisiana. These funds will help rebuild our precious wetlands, which provide our country national, energy and economic security. It’s imperative that the RESTORE Act receives passage by both chambers and is sent to President Obama’s desk for signature.”
At a press conference at The Wharf Express in Tallahassee, Fla., local leaders spoke to the media about the importance of restoring Florida’s economy after the oil spill and passing the RESTORE Act as soon as possible. Photos from the event can be viewed here.
“In Panama City Beach, our economy depends on beautiful natural resources that were injured in the BP oil disaster, including our alluring beaches and fresh Gulf seafood, which drive tourism to our restaurants, resorts, and businesses,” said Beth Oltman, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce in a statement released yesterday. “Passage of the RESTORE Act will not only put the Gulf Coast on the path to revitalize our precious natural resources but also to mend our economy.”
“The long-term viability of the Gulf is dependent upon preserving its coast. The economy and security of the nation is significantly dependent upon the Gulf,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. in a written statement. “With this interdependence in mind, passing the RESTORE Act is both a regional and national imperative.”
- Letter to House and Senate leadership from 118 Gulf Coast leaders
- Video: Gulf Leaders to Congress: Pass RESTORE Act
- Photos: Local Leaders Meet to Discuss Gulf Coast Restore Act – SLIDESHOW (WCTV)
- Officials support the Restore Act: Group meets at Wharf to express needs (Tallahassee Democrat)
- Gulf Coast coalition urges Congress to pass RESTORE Act (Mobile Press-Register)
- Gulf Coast cities, counties and business groups offer support for federal oil spill legislation (The Florida Current)
This post was originally published on the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Promise blog.
By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation’s Coastal Louisiana Organizer in New Orleans
What would you do if, in one day, you lost everything? I’m not just talking about your personal possessions; I’m talking about your entire community — your church, your grocery store, your school. The folks you meet in the video below, Warrenetta Banks and John Taylor, have lived out this scenario every day since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 and have chosen to respond with passion and dedication to recovery — advocating for smart, green urban planning on one side of the levee and a healthy wetland ecosystem on the other side of the levee.
Warrenetta and John are both lifelong residents of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. In the years since the catastrophic flooding, they’ve helped their community recover to be one of the “greenest” in the nation — solar panels, community gardens, and LEED certified homes are typical encounters as you walk down the street. That’s on one side of the levee.
Residents like Warrenetta and John understand all too well that the wetland ecosystem on the other side of the levee is critical to their future and safety. Healthy wetlands serve as a buffer to storm surges and winds and help the levees do their job to protect communities. National Wildlife Federation is one organization working closely with the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (where Warrenetta and John work) to plan and gain funding for restoration of the 400-acre cypress swamp bordering the community (featured in the video) as well as the entire 58,000 acres wetland ecosystem the swamp is connected to, which once buffered much of the Greater New Orleans area from storms and provided important wildlife habitat.
Without healthy wetlands, coastal communities like the Lower Ninth Ward remain very vulnerable to disasters. Urgent funding is needed for restoration. The RESTORE Act, legislation now making its way through the U.S. Congress, will use a portion of Clean Water Act penalties from the BP disaster to fund projects that will restore Gulf Coast ecosystems, including wetlands that protect communities and provide critical habitat for gulf wildlife. Right now, you can make a difference in the future of the Gulf Coast. Learn more about the RESTORE Act and share your voice!No Comments
By John Lopez, Ph.D., Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
The Bohemia Spillway, located along the east bank of the Mississippi River two miles south of Pointe a la Hache, La., is a rare opportunity to observe the natural processes and potential benefits of the Mississippi River flow into the Louisiana wetlands. Because there is no artificial river levee to obstruct flow during high water, the river has been flowing into the adjacent wetlands for 85 years. In 2011, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) conducted a hydrologic study of how much water enters the spillway and where it flows during floods. It was over the course of this work that LPBF researchers made an unexpected discovery: a new channel was being cut by the flowing water from the Mississippi River.
As the 2011 flood waned, we began noticing this new channel, and in July, the channel made a dramatic breach into the nearby roadway. On Mardi Gras Day 2012 (Feb. 21), scientists noted that the channel had reached the bank of the Mississippi River and shortly after, a complete breach into the river occurred. With this milestone, the channel is now an extension of the Mississippi River that helps distribute the river flow through the new distributary channel.
At this time, the distributary flow through the newly-dubbed “Mardi Gras Pass” is small, estimated to be less than 1% of the river’s peak discharge (5,000 to 10,000 cubic feet per second). The channel is 30 to 40 feet wide near the river but deep enough to capture river flow continuously even under very low water. This new diversion was not manmade – it was the result of natural river forces seeking a shorter outlet to the sea.
It can be expected that Mardi Gras Pass will expand over time. The rate of enlargement is of great interest because this process has not been observed in modern times, and the concern is that the diversion may become too large. However, enlargement of the pass may be desirable, because just one mile away, the new draft Louisiana Coastal Master Plan recommends a large diversion of about 4% of the river’s peak flow (50,000 cubic feet per second). This new diversion is estimated to cost $220 million, so LPBF is encouraging the state and Army Corps of Engineers to consider Mardi Gras Pass as an alternative, since it may provide the same wetland benefits for a much smaller cost and much sooner than a constructed diversion.
Another exciting aspect of Mardi Gras Pass is the rapid emergence of the riverine ecology. When the channel was just a few weeks old, schools of fish were observed migrating up current toward the river. These pogy fish were feasting on the plant detritus being washed into the pass from the river. The influx of fish to the area attracted river otters, which have been commonly observed feeding in the pass. Additionally, beaver, heron and other critters have begun taking advantage of the bounty created by the river flow in Mardi Gras Pass.
Support for this research is provided by The McKnight Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, The Walton Family Foundation, Surdna and The National Audubon Society. To learn more about LPBF and the Bohemia Spillway, please visit SaveOurLake.org (go to Coastal > Technical Reports > Bohemia Spillway Documentation).
- Video: Bohemia Rising: Exploring the Mississippi Delta in South Louisiana, (Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation).
- Resiliency of the Bohemia Spillway and the Evolution of Mardi Gras Pass, Southeast Louisiana, (Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation).
By Lacey McCormick, National Wildlife Federation
The Mississippi River Delta is one of the best places on earth to catch monster largemouth bass. If America’s anglers didn’t know that before, they certainly discovered it last year when Kevin van Dam shattered the previous Bassmaster Classic stringer record at the 2011 Bassmaster Classic.
Last night, the Vanishing Paradise team was honored to have the opportunity to make a presentation to executives at B.A.S.S. and the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation conservation directors about the work we are doing to rally hunters and anglers nationwide to support restoration of the Mississippi River Delta. We were particularly delighted when B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin got up before our talk and discussed the importance of restoring the delta and supporting organizations like Vanishing Paradise.
Anglers who know the region intuitively grasp the need for restoration. As Kevin van Dam said before last year’s Classic:
“The first time I fished [the delta] was in the late 1990s and I was blown away by the quality of the fisheries. I’ve fished here a half a dozen times since then. … Each time, I’m just stunned at the changes. Areas that used to be marsh are now just open bay.”
Vanishing Paradise wants to thank Van Dam as well as the other Bassmaster competitors who have signed our letter to Congress, including Mike Iaconelli, Skeet Reese, Stephen Browning, Cliff Pace, Greg Hackney, Brent Chapman, Edwin Evers, Todd Faircloth, Mark Davis and Terry Butcher.
Mike Iaconelli is one angler who knows the delta well — he won the 2003 Bassmaster Classic there, after all — and he is a strong and vocal supporter of coastal restoration:
“If you hunt, if you fish, if you just love the outdoors, it’s important to step up and care about this problem. The thing is we’ve got a way to fix it, we’ve got a solution. … We’ve got the Mississippi River, which is one of the main things we can use to bring the marsh back.”
Seven-time Bassmaster Classic competitor Stephen Browning agrees, saying anglers everywhere can play a role in speaking up for the delta:
“We can spread the message to the rest of the country, to our congressmen and senators. Hopefully the right person’s eyes will be opened, and we can get something started.
Watch Kevin Van Dam, Mike Iaconelli and Stephen Browning discuss the need to restore the delta:
Restoration Wins Big at 2011 Bassmaster Classic
The 2012 Bassmaster Classic starts today and continues through Sunday (Feb. 24-26).No Comments
Tonight, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m., Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) premiers Turning the Tide, a powerful new documentary about restoring America’s disappearing Mississippi River Delta. The film includes many voices, including experts from the organizations collaborating in the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign.
Tune in tonight to this must-see film. Here’s more from LPB’s announcement:
“Turning the Tide, a new 90-minute documentary from Louisiana Public Broadcasting, presents an in-depth examination of proposed solutions, proven strategies and bold engineering that can ‘turn the tide’ on the national crisis unfolding at the mouth of America’s largest and most productive river delta. The world’s foremost authorities demystify the complex challenges facing Louisiana’s Coast, revealing new discoveries that challenge conventional thinking and may change the course of the coast’s future.
“Turning the Tide will present the first truly comprehensive and objective look at the strategies being considered, allowing for true scientific debate with an examination of what is already working, what has not worked and what the best science suggests could work. The program also provides a sobering reality check on what the state of Louisiana could look like if scientific and public consensus isn’t soon reached. If we don’t do anything, 10,000 to 13,000 square kilometers of land will be lost by the year 2100.”No Comments