Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 
Slidell Public Meeting on One Lake Project
Slidell Public Meeting on One Lake project Aug 16 2018

Last week two things happened to place the One Lake Project under more public scrutiny.  First, on Thursday Aug 16th, the attorney and contractors for the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood Control and Drainage District, involved in the writing of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the One Lake Project, went to Baton Rouge. They were invited there by Senator Sharon Hewitt and the members of the Joint Senate House Lower Pearl River Ecosystem Task Force to make a presentation about the proposed Pearl River lake dredging project. The Task Force has agency members from LDEQ, CPRA, LDWF, LDOT, and LDNR plus Chairwoman Sen. Sharon Hewitt, Rep. Malinda White, Sen. Beth Mizell, Perry Talley from the Washington Parish Council and Gina Campo who represents St. Tammany Parish President Brister.

On Thursday morning during the presentation, Senator Hewitt began asking Drainage District attorney Keith Turner to pause and let her get...

 
Pearlington Public Meeting for One Lake project
Pearlington Meeting

This Thursday August 16th, the last two meetings for public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Pearl River “One Lake” project take place in Louisiana. Both are public meetings. One is in Baton Rouge in Senate Meeting Room “E” at the State Capitol at 10:30 a.m. Then, Thursday night the fourth and final public meeting takes place at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium at 6-8 p.m. These meetings, except for the Senate's meeting in Baton Rouge, have been hosted by the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District – a two county Levee Board, situated in the city of Flowood, near Jackson, Ms.

Yesterday, August 13th in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Senator Sharon Hewitt convened the Joint House Senate Lower Pearl River Ecosystem Task Force members to hear the preliminary comments on the draft EIS from the state agency members of the task force: LDWF, CPRA,...

 
St James HELP organization and allies
St James HELP organization and allies

It is no secret that some of Louisiana’s leading industries are in oil, natural gas, and chemicals. Our state is the third largest producer of petroleum in the country and, on top of that, we have  the largest concentration of crude oil refineries. We also ship out more than $14 billion worth of chemicals each year. Needless to say, a lot of Louisiana's revenue comes from these industries. But at what cost?

Economics looks at how a country decides to use their scarce resources in the best way possible. And that decision is made by determining what to produce, how to produce it, and who to produce it for. Ideally, government actors answer these questions while keeping two important things in mind. First, the maintenance of our environment. Second, the health and well-being of our society. But that is not the case when you look at the locations of most...

 

I should start this story with a hook. Something spectacular.
I could take a step back and remind you of the 140 million gallons of crude oil ‘released’ by Pemex into the Gulf in 1979. I could reiterate the devastating loss of human life and environmental suffering caused by Deepwater Horizon.

I could. But I'm not going to. It doesn’t tell the whole story. And, unless you live in one of the five Gulf states, or work for the petrochemical industry, these leading stories are eventually forgotten.

The truth about oil and gas in the Gulf can’t be understood through a few choice stories that make good headlines. The story of the Gulf is best told through the spills that happen every day; the ones that don’t make the front page or national news. Daily disappointments make it clear that governance in the Gulf is different. The Gulf  is a...

 
Protect the Pearl

There is major opportunity coming up for you to weigh-in on the destructive “One Lake” plan, which involves creating a new dam and lake on the Pearl River near Jackson, Mississippi. Among other things, this project will impact flooding and water quantity downstream, fill 1800 acres of floodplain wetlands, and likely impact the restoration of oysters reefs in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District, which is sponsoring the project, is taking public comments right now on a draft Environmental Impact Statement and there are two public meetings happening near you. Here are the details:

August 2, 6-8 pm, at the Infinity Science Center (1 Discovery Cir, Pearlington, MS 39572)
August 16, 6-8 pm, at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium (2056 2nd St, Slidell, LA 70458)

Email me if you have any questions or need more info. Click here for more information on the...

 
Pearl River MWF Magazine Article Summer 2018
Author at Hwy 90 Bridge over Pearl at Pearlington

I have seen both ends of the Pearl River and there is something about it that pulls at my memory and conscience. I spent many happy hours fishing the marshes of Lake Borgne in Louisiana with my father. The Pearl empties into the Mississippi Sound and Lake Borgne, and its fresh water plays a big part in maintaining moderate  salinities in the Biloxi Marshes of St. Bernard Parish and coastal waters surrounding the mouth of the river in Hancock County and St. Tammany Parish. The redfish, trout, flounder, sheepshead, croakers and crabs that we caught in Lake Borgne during our 20 years of Shell Beach fishing trips owed much to the river’s influence on the estuary.


I’ve visited the river’s headwaters too. I was fortunate enough to be taken by the tribal lands manager for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to see the origin of the Pearl River...

 
Abandoned Mines to Wetlands

Abandoned sand and gravel mines have the potential to make flooding events more severe. But restoring these mines can create recreational, economic, and ecological wins...

 

This month, I had the pleasure of touring the surge barrier with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. DSCEJ's Water Equity Group came from all five Gulf States to tour Bayou Bienvenue and discuss surge protection -- natural and unnatural. 

We toured the MR GO ship channel and discussed its potential to funnel storm surge into the City of New Orleans.


We talked about the efforts since the federal flood of Katrina to push the Army Corps to fix its mistakes. We talked about the saltwater closure of this Port and the ecological restoration blossoming all the way north to Manchac. We talked about the great Barrier which cost $2 Billion to build and more to operate. We discussed how it wasn't enough. This impressive structure was only built as high as the 1 in 100-year storm surge. This is a much...

 

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 222-193 Wednesday to pass HR 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act. This  bill guts many of the core conservation measures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary federal law protecting our fisheries. This legislation now awaits a companion bill in the Senate.

Gulf Restoration Network has led the opposition to this bill in the five Gulf states, joining many fishermen, chefs, scientists and other groups. GRN opposes this bill because it removes science-based annual catch limits. The “flexibility” in fisheries management that this bill promises comes at the cost of abandoning what has been working for over 40 years. HR 200 threatens to undo many of the successes that the MSA has accomplished.

One thing is certain, the U.S.’s fisheries are significantly healthier today than the dark years leading up to...

 

The ocean has a way of bringing things together. Its many sea currents dip, dive and swirl through the Gulf of Mexico delivering critical nutrients, plants, and animals exactly where they need to be. A baby turtle slips into the tide, one of only a few to survive the short, sandy trek from the nest to water. She is immediately picked up by one of these currents and astoundingly survives the saltwater superhighway out to the open ocean...

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