Senate pushes decision on oil spill legislation to post-recess
The U.S. Senate will not consider oil spill response legislation until September, after its recess, at the earliest. While not unexpected, this delay is disappointing for coastal restoration advocates who had seen important progress in the U.S. House of Representatives recently.
The House passed an amendment on July 30, that would fund a gulf coast restoration program with civil penalties assessed against BP under the Clean Water Act, up to an estimated $1.2 billion.
"This is an important start," said Environmental Defense Fund’s Coastal Louisiana Project Attorney Courtney Taylor. "It's not going to cover all that the coast needs, but it will substantially advance the program and get some critical projects off the ground."
Vote to Refresh the Gulf!
The Louisiana Gulf Response Involvement Team (GRIT) , a partnership of conservation organizations, is in the running to receive $250,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project. GRIT
is a Louisiana-based volunteer program with over 30,000 volunteers, working to restore Louisiana’s coastal marshes and barrier islands. The group's volunteer projects include beach clean-ups, marsh grass plantings, and the deployment of Gulf Saver bags to restore and rebuild Louisiana’s coast.
GRIT member organizations include Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, and The Nature Conservancy. They need your votes to win the Pepsi Refresh Project's funding. Click here to vote for GRIT and be sure to return and vote daily.
Audubon’s Driscoll testifies at federal bureau’s well-containment hearing
Melanie Driscoll, Audubon’s director of bird conservation in Louisiana, testified on an experts’ panel during a well-containment hearing held by the new federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement's director Michael Bromwich in New Orleans on August 4. Federal officials asked her to speak on behalf of the living resources of the Gulf of Mexico, providing a counterpoint to the comments of engineers, professors, politicians and businessmen. An excerpt of her testimony follows; the full version is available online.
“We, the living resources of the Gulf of Mexico, need you, the oil companies, the federal and state governments, and the American public, to focus on prevention of oil spills and to be able to implement immediate well containment in the event of a blowout if you are to move forward with deepwater drilling.
“Once the well blows, it is too late to avoid damage. There will be harm. There will be deaths, human and animal, and there will be economic damage to communities and the American public. This can no longer be acceptable business practice.
“We need you to put as much money, creativity, and effort into research and development of blowout prevention and well containment as you put into methods to drill faster and deeper.
“Several of the technologies used during the initial weeks after the well blew out were used during the Ixtoc spill of 1979, and they failed in 400 feet of water. You were inventing new technology while tens of thousands of barrels of oil were gushing into the Gulf per day.
“It must never again be acceptable to perform a massive chemical experiment on our Gulf or ocean waters and the living resources within.
“When you fail to contain a well for three months, you fail to protect all of us: birds, dolphins, fiddler crabs, shrimp, crabs, oysters. When you focus on profit, not prevention, you fail fishermen, oystermen, crabbers, captains, guides, and their wives and husbands, their children.
“You must enforce and respect strong regulations, you must create and field test effective technologies, and you must place those solutions at well sites before any additional deepwater drilling occurs, for all our sakes.”
Photo credit: National Audubon Society.
Meet Andy Baker
Andy Baker is the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation’s (LPBF) Coastal Programs Assistant. A Philadelphia native, Andy moved to New Orleans in 2007. In graduate school, Andy completed his group thesis project on Bayou Bienvenue and the Central Wetlands Unit in New Orleans, assessing its restoration potential and exploring its importance for the neighboring Lower Ninth Ward community. “I was so struck by the complexity of the coastal crisis and indomitable spirit of the people that I moved to New Orleans after graduation to devote myself to addressing America’s most severe and least recognized environmental catastrophe,” says Andy.
A few months after moving to New Orleans, Andy began working at LPBF. He does a mix of field work, research and meetings, and is always doing and learning something new. “It’s an ideal position for learning about the environment and issues of costal Louisiana, while doing substantial work that makes a difference,” says Andy. “LPBF is a wonderful organization that I’m pleased and proud to be associated with.”
Andy earned a master’s degree in water resources management from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a bachelor’s degree in resource biology from the University of California, Berkeley.