By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund
Newspaper editorial boards and columnists from all five Gulf Coast states have endorsed legislation that would dedicate 80 percent of fines from BP and others responsible for last summer's gulf oil disaster to restore Gulf Coast communities, economies and ecosystems. The RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act is a gulf-wide, bipartisan bill co-sponsored by nine out of the 10 gulf senators. Here are some of the highlights:
The Montgomery Advertiser:
"It is crucial that members of Congress from Gulf Coast states remain united behind the RESTORE Act. It would be shameful if the states most affected by the BP oil spill did not get the lion's share of revenue from the fines and penalties to use to help restore their coastal areas." ("Advertiser Editorial: Senators work together." Montgomery Advertiser [Montgomery, Al.] 4 Aug. 2011.)
The Clarion Ledger:
"After Hurricane Katrina, the recession and the oil spill, the Gulf Coast could use the funds the RESTORE act would provide." ("Gulf oil spill: Return funds to region." The Clarion Ledger [Jackson, Ms.] 12 Aug. 2011.)
The Houston Chronicle:
"Yes, the Treasury really could use the money. But Gulf Coast residents have suffered far more than anyone else as a result of the BP disaster; it's only fair that the money goes to address their woes." ("Restoring the Gulf: A bipartisan bill to direct BP fines toward coastal damage makes good sense." Houston Chronicle 28 Jul. 2011.)
Read more gulf editorials here >>
By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Last Friday in the remote town of Davant, Louisiana (on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish), more than 100 people who care about the coast spent the day engaging in a productive dialogue about coastal restoration and protection. The forum, “Getting the Water Right, Getting the Jobs Right,” brought together fishermen, environmental NGOs, community and faith-based organizations, coastal engineering firms, academics, workforce development organizations as well as local, state and federal government representatives to start a vital and urgent series of conversations about Mississippi River Delta restoration and protection.
This foundational event was the idea of Reverend Tyronne Edwards of Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, who understands that “the time is now” to develop a vision for our coast’s future that will be embraced by all who love it. With a spirit of collaboration, he knowingly brought together a group of organizations with diverse interests in coastal restoration to plan and execute a meaningful forum, which included discussion about coastal restoration policy, local job training and opportunities in restoration, and project planning and implementation 101.
Read more about the “Getting the Water Right, Getting the Jobs Right" forum >>
By Chris Pulaski, National Wildlife Federation
Restore or Retreat and the National Wildlife Federation hosted the first "Lafourche and Terrebonne Allied Restoration Summit for Non-Governmental Organizations" on August 3 in Houma, La. The summit was designed to facilitate a discussion on how and where the local, state and federal non-governmental organization (NGO) community can work with Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes to achieve common restoration goals for large-scale projects. Several of the NGOs present agreed to participate in further detailed discussions with the parishes on projects ranging from sediment delivery from the Atchafalaya River to western and central Terrebonne to barrier island restoration in Lower Lafourche.
The afternoon discussion session covered topics such as restoration priorities for the State and Parishes, and how NGOs could become involved either through letters of support, comments or data. State Department of Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Lou Buatt commented on new conservation initiatives and mitigation requirements of the levee districts. Ms. Snider led a strategy discussion including updates on the 2012 Master Plan, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), Clean Water Act penalties and the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act.
Find out more about the restoration summit >>
By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Next in our Faces of the Delta series, you will meet Father Vien: Vietnam refugee, New Orleans priest, urban gardener and coastal restoration advocate.
Name: Father Vien The Nguyen
Location: New Orleans East
Occupation: Chairman of the Board for Mary Queen of Viet Nam (MQVN) Community Development Corporation, former priest at Mary Queen of Vietnam Church in New Orleans
Father Vien, talking about the MQVN Church: I think we are probably the most international parish in New Orleans. We have Caucasian-Americans, Latino-Americans, Vietnamese and African-Americans in this parish. It’s trilingual. Our masses are trilingual: one in Vietnamese, one in English and one in Spanish.
Tell me about your connection to south Louisiana. What brought you to the area? I was born in Vietnam. I came here in 1975 with the fall of the south (Vietnam). First, my family settled in southeast Missouri from 1975 to summer of 1977. Then we moved to New Orleans.
I was 11 years old when I first arrived in America, so in many ways, I grew up here. I attended junior high, high school, college and graduate school here. We came here because we were very isolated in Missouri. We were the only Vietnamese family in probably a 30-mile radius. We didn’t know any English at all. We had no transportation.
We visited New Orleans in 1976 to visit the Vietnamese priest who was our chaplain in our refugee camp in Arkansas. It was a very heart-warming experience because there was a large number of Vietnamese in the area. We felt very at home because of the language. So we decided to move here in 1977.
Continue reading Father Vien's story >>
David J. Ringer is the National Audubon Society’s communications director for the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi Flyway. He leads communications strategy and activities for the Mississippi River Delta restoration campaign, broader Gulf Coast conservation and restoration efforts, citizen science, and forest, wetland and prairie work.
Before joining Audubon, David did PR and a wide variety of other communications and media work for several NGOs that work on sociolinguistic issues around the world, an experience which took him to more than 25 countries on six continents. He has also worked as a web developer and a biological field technician, and he authors articles on bird taxonomy and systematics and other natural history topics.
Having volunteered for local Audubon chapters since he was in high school, and with a lifelong interest in birds and other wildlife, David says he was excited to join the Audubon team full time in 2009. “Birds opened my eyes to the bigger realities of our own effects and dependence on the environment,” he says. “At Audubon, I get to work every day for the protection and flourishing of all life, including our own.”
Read more about David >>