Bill dedicates oil spill fines to restore Gulf communities, economies & ecosystems
A coalition of organizations supporting Gulf restoration celebrated news on July 21 that a bipartisan coalition of Gulf senators is cosponsoring the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act. The legislation seeks to ensure that penalties paid by BP and others responsible for last year’s Gulf oil disaster are used to help restore the region’s communities, economies and environments instead of going to unrelated federal spending.
Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) are the original cosponsors of the bill, and are now joined by Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kay Bailey-Hutchison (R-TX). Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who was instrumental in securing the agreement among the senators, has pledged to consider this bill in her committee quickly.
“The damage from the oil spill was done in the Gulf, so Congress should ensure that oil spill fines go to the Gulf, not to unrelated federal spending,” reads the joint statement. “This Gulf state agreement paves the way for Congress to do what voters expect: hold the parties responsible for the Gulf oil disaster accountable for restoring the Gulf because our nation’s economy depends on a healthy Gulf region.”
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As Senators consider bill on oil spill penalties, conservationists urge lawmakers to invest fines in Gulf’s natural systems and communities that need them.
Leading conservation groups working across the Gulf of Mexico have submitted to the White House a blueprint for action that federal, state and local governments can take to restore the region’s threatened natural systems and to help communities that rely on the Gulf for survival.
The groups delivered their recommendations to the Presidential Task Force on Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration, which President Obama created last October by executive order. The task force is facing a one-year deadline this October to develop a comprehensive strategy “to effectively address the damage caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, address the longstanding ecological decline, and begin moving toward a more resilient Gulf Coast ecosystem.”
The timing of the groups’ recommendations, entitled a Strategy for Restoring the Gulf of Mexico, is important. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to soon vote on legislation that would provide funding to implement the Presidential Task Force’s restoration plans. The Senate bill, the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act
, would dedicate 80 percent of the oil spill fines to restoring the Gulf’s communities, economies and environments. Under current law, most of the fines will be used for general government spending, rather than being directed towards the Gulf.
By Amanda Moore (National Wildlife Federation) and Brian Jackson (Environmental Defense Fund)
The Mississippi River built 7,000 square miles of beautiful, rich deltaic wetlands, but over the last century, the natural land-building processes that constructed that land have been largely shut off. Flipping that land-building switch back on is crucial for success in restoring the Mississippi River Delta and the communities, wildlife and economies that depend on it.
A critical project that will build land and jumpstart restoration is the Myrtle Grove Sediment Diversion. Myrtle Grove is a top priority for our coalition among the various proposed restoration project because it will be precedent-setting in its design and operation, scientific rigor, and outreach to interested stakeholders.
The short video below doesn't include any Trapper Joe cameos, but we still want you to take a few minutes to learn more about the Myrtle Grove Sediment Diversion and how it will replicate natural land building functions already occurring and seen elsewhere in the delta.
Click here to watch the video.
The Vanishing Paradise team and outdoor writers descend on Lafitte, Louisiana for explosive redfishing – as well as an education.
By Lew Carpenter, National Wildlife Federation
Five outdoor writers representing sportsmen from coast-to-coast recently joined a Vanishing Paradise team for two days of fishing out of Captain Theophile Bourgeois’ Cajun Vista Inn in Lafitte, Louisiana.
The calm skies were dusted with distant thunderheads as we headed out into the marsh with Captain Mike. Several stops along the way afforded Louisiana Wildlife Federation Coastal Outreach Coordinator Chris Macaluso the opportunity to show us areas of vast wetland loss, as well as projects that are currently working to rebuild the marsh.
By bringing key outdoor writers into this precious resource, the National Wildlife Federation’s Vanishing Paradise campaign will reach hundreds of thousands of sportsmen across the country in a significant way.
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Next in our Faces of the Delta series, you will meet Justin Mack: New Orleans native, environmental educator and restoration advocate.
By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Name: Justin Mack
Location: Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana
Occupation: Science Coordinator at Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School in the Lower 9th Ward
Tell me about your connection to south Louisiana. I was born in New Orleans and moved to Houston as a child. I came back to New Orleans for grad school at LSU in February 2005, and I have family here.
What does south Louisiana mean to you? South Louisiana is the cultural heart of the state. It’s a major economic and cultural heart of the south.
What are your favorite things about the area? I enjoy the laid-back lifestyle, food and fun!
How has coastal land loss impacted your life? The destruction of Hurricane Katrina. I started grad school the month Hurricane Katrina came and I worked in the East Jefferson Hospital at night. My school was uprooted and moved to Baton Rouge. I lived in the hospital for a month, sleeping in a hospital room.
I came to MLK School in the Spring of 2008. Today, the students are more aware of their environment.
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Sean Crowley is a five-time PR award-winner who serves as Marketing-Communications Director for Environmental Defense Fund's national Land, Water & Wildlife Program and EDF’s California offices. His responsibilities include leading EDF’s PR campaign to restore the Mississippi River Delta. Sean generated more than 400 news stories about last summer’s BP oil disaster quoting EDF spokespersons. In 2008, his PR expertise helped EDF's farm bill campaign achieve a $4 billion hike in conservation funding over the prior farm bill.
Prior to coming to EDF, Sean was Senior Vice President for Media Relations for five years at M+R Strategic Services, where he served as a PR consultant for numerous corporate, labor and nonprofit clients. They included a successful coalition campaign–led by EDF–to stop the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture because it causes antibiotic resistance in human medicine.
"I joined EDF because I knew first-hand about the staff’s extraordinary talent and that EDF has a decades-long track record of achieving extraordinary results,” says Sean. “EDF succeeds because it doesn't make ‘the perfect the enemy of the good.’ It fits with my political philosophy: I'm a bleeding heart pragmatist! :)"
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