Executive Director Named for Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force
On October 25
, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson named John H. Hankinson, Jr. as executive director of the newly-established Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, which President Obama created through an executive order in October.
Hankinson served until recently as board chairman of Audubon of Florida and as southeast regional EPA administrator from 1994 to 2001. Previously, Hankinson led land acquisition at the St. Johns River Water Management District and was a staff director for the Florida House of Representatives. A veteran problem solver, he has the skills to bring people together and a strong commitment to coastal conservation.
“John has worked with Audubon through the spill and before to mount an effective response and make a healthy and resilient Gulf Coast a priority,” said Audubon of Florida State Director Eric Draper.
“From our many years working together at EPA, I know John will do an excellent job leading this vital initiative,” said Diane Regas, associate vice president for programs at Environmental Defense Fund.
“We are proud that one of Audubon’s most important leaders is stepping into such an important role in restoring the Gulf,” said Audubon’s Chris Canfield, vice president of Gulf Coast conservation. “Audubon looks forward to supporting John so that the communities of people and wildlife can heal as quickly as possible.”
“All of the folks and organizations from the national to the local level that love and depend on the Gulf of Mexico must get behind the effort to restore this magnificent resource,” Hankinson said.
Photo courtesy of Audubon of Florida
Groups Push Congress to Pass Gulf Restoration Legislation During Lame Duck Session
Environmental Defense Fund
Currently under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the financial penalties BP would pay for causing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill would be deposited into the Federal Treasury. However, the Treasury should not receive a windfall from a tragedy that severely damaged the Gulf region’s economy and environment. These funds belong in the Gulf.
As such, our organizations are working to encourage Congress to pass legislation during the lame duck session that would devote a significant portion of the BP fines to Gulf Coast restoration. This legislation would direct these funds to a robust state-federal partnership, including members from Alabama, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. This entity would then disburse the money to Gulf Coast restoration projects in accordance with a comprehensive plan.
Since the lame duck only is expected to last for several weeks, Congress must act quickly. Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, as well as Representative Steve Scalise, already have introduced bills that would devote CWA penalties to Gulf restoration. Now the Senate – including other Gulf state senators – must make it a priority to pass legislation during the lame duck. Between now and the end of this Congress, our partner organizations will continue to build support for Gulf restoration in Congress.
Photo Credit: USFWS/Southeast
DELTAS2010: World Delta Dialogues Focuses on Mississippi River Delta Restoration
The Nature Conservancy
The inaugural DELTAS2010: World Delta Dialogues conference, held on October 17-21 in New Orleans, brought together approximately 450 participants from 15 countries to address the complex issues facing the world's deltas. Representatives included government agencies, coastal scientists, environmental non-profits, and numerous stakeholder interests, such as energy, navigation and coastal community groups.
The purpose of the conference was to foster cooperation among government and interest groups regarding the world's deltas and to share information that will contribute to the sustainability of deltas worldwide. While the conference focused on global delta issues, much of the discussion centered on the Mississippi River Delta.
The themes that emerged were no surprise: We need to move with urgency to restore Louisiana's coast, we know enough to make significant progress a reality, this effort must be supported locally and nationally, and we must recognize and take action to address those people who will be impacted by the changes in our coast.
DELTAS2010 was designed to be the first step in a continuing conversation with partners around the world. Conference hosts included America’s WETLAND Foundation, The Royal Netherlands Embassy, The Nature Conservancy, and The Greater New Orleans Foundation. Conference organizers anticipate that the second World Delta Dialogues – DELTAS2012 – will be held in Vietnam.
Six Months Later, A Call to Action
National Wildlife Federation
On the six-month anniversary of the BP oil disaster, National Wildlife Federation partnered with dozens of organizations – including national environmental groups, local community associations and the fishing industry – to call for congressional action in response to the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
At the rally in New Orleans, participants spoke in support of the Weeks Bay Principles, a set of response and recovery goals signed by 37 organizations across the Gulf in October at a gathering in Alabama convened by the Gulf Restoration Network. The principles call for the government to commit to six broad actions, including holding BP accountable, making coastal communities whole again and committing to cleaning up and restoring the Gulf.
What can Congress do today?
Our organizations have asked Congress, when it convenes in November, to take action on the following requests:
- 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP for the disaster should be directed to the Gulf region for recovery.
- Establishment of a Regional Citizen Advisory Council (similar to the citizen council established after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska) to ensure meaningful input from affected communities.
The rally in New Orleans was one of 11 held across the Gulf to mark the six-month anniversary of the BP oil disaster.
Meet Amy Tyrrell
Amy Tyrrell currently serves as Program Director for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. A native of southern Louisiana, Amy graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a degree in Speech Communications. Amy has more than 10 years of experience working with non-profits, specifically in the areas of member relations, fundraising and event planning.
Before joining the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Amy served as District Director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and as Development Director for World Services for the Blind. In these roles, Amy's work included managing fundraising and community relations activities, corporate and media relations and member relations activities. She also is a member of Lions Clubs International.