October: GRN settled a lawsuit brought against the Alabama Trustee Implementation Group (Trustees). The lawsuit was meant to challenge the misuse of National Resource Damages (NRD) funds that were given to the state after the BP disaster. The suit was filed after the Trustees approved the use of the NRD funds in the construction of a lodge and conference center for the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project. Under the new terms of settlement, $65 million will be used to maintain public access amenities in the Gulf State Park. The settlement also prohibits the construction of a north to south road that would cut through the park. This is a huge win for the Gulf residents with BP disaster funds now going towards public access amenities.
September: Along the Pearl River, GRN is ecstatic to welcome Abby Branman as the first Pearl Riverkeeper through the Waterkeeper Alliance. She will lead the organization in advocating, protecting, and keeping watch over the Pearl River. The foundation of this organization will help to clean up and restore this great waterway which is the fourth-largest source of freshwater discharge into the Gulf of Mexico. During the first Pearl River Clean Sweep, 36,782 lbs.of trash was cleared from the River through the hard work of the Riverkeepers and 1,015 volunteers. The communities along the Pearl River really care about protecting what they love.
August: Through GRN and its Saucier members’ persistent correspondence, negotiation, and advocacy, an agreement was reached with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) over the new treatment permit for Lakeview R/V Resort. The new permit will require the resort to use chlorine in their sprayfield, comply with bacteria limits, track the amount of water sprayed and report these findings. Through the new permit the resort will be held accountable for their waste management. As a result of the new permit, waterways, such as the Tuxachanie Creek that leads into the National Forest in Mississippi, will now be protected.
March: GRN and the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper settled a lawsuit with the New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the use of Regional General Permit NOD-13 (NOD-13) that permits the destruction of wetlands to build oilfield roads and other infrastructure. General permits require less rigorous oversight and analysis than regular Corps permits. Under the settlement, the Corps’ agreed that its re-evaluation of NOD-13 will propose exclusion of the Atchafalaya Basin from the scope of the general permit and that NOD-13 cannot not be used to authorize projects anywhere else in the New Orleans District until that re-evaluation is completed.
January 12th and February 9th: In response to pressure from GRN and our allies, the Army Corps of Engineers and Louisiana’s Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources held two public hearings on the proposed Bayou Bridge fracked oil pipeline, which would harm hundreds of acres of flood-buffering wetlands and drinking water sources. GRN worked with our partners to encourage over 750 concerned citizens to attend, who together clocked almost 12 hours of spoken testimony.
January: GRN pressured agencies to preserve 700 additional acres as part of the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area to mitigate impacts from the Ascension Gas Pipeline.
January: The Land Trust for Mississippi Coastal Plain completed restoration of over 200 acres of wetlands in coastal Mississippi. This restoration was made possible by a settlement of GRN’s suit holding Hancock County Development Corporation accountable for illegal destruction of those wetlands.
January 2017: GRN, working in partnership with Care2, generated over 100,000 petition signatures and comments supporting the National Marine Fisheries Service proposal to list the Gulf Bryde’s whale, which is estimated to have a population of less than a hundred individuals left, as an endangered species. Endangered status will help protect Gulf Bryde’s whales and their habitat.
January 2017: GRN and the Mississippi Coast Sierra Club chapter were very successful in organizing attendance and encouraging public comments at the scoping meeting that began the George County Lake Environmental Impact Statement process, making a clear statement that coast residents are opposed to the project. The proposed George County lake would involve damming tributaries of the Pascagoula River, one of the last, large free-flowing rivers in the lower 48 U.S. states.
2016: GRN coordinated 20 monitoring trips by air and sea in the Gulf to survey wetlands, dune, and island restoration, watchdog oil and gas impacts like Hilcorp and Shell's major oil spills, and assess the catastrophic flooding of August 2016.
2016: Through monitoring, commenting, and challenging Corps of Engineers wetland destruction permits, GRN helped protect and restore 4,890 acres of wetlands in Gulf states over the course of the year.
2016: The year was full of successful events! We found the Easter Keg during our annual scavenger hunt with NOLA Brewing, sailed out to Ship Island for the first time during our Boat Party and attended dozens of Earth Month events organized by Aveda salons across the South. Halloween weekend, GRN hosted a booth at Voodoo Fest and signed up dozens of members to “Defend Our Coast.” Musicians from near and far gave us shout outs, took action and The Breton Sound and Devon Baldwin flew with us to see Louisiana’s coast from the skies! Many thanks to the supporters and donors who made these events possible, we couldn’t do it without you.
November: GRN, as a member of the Mississippi River Collaborative, released Decades of Delay: EPA Leadership Still Lacking in Protecting America’s Great River, where we highlight the impact and lack of action related to nitrogen and phosphorus pollution (the cause of the Dead Zone, toxic algae blooms, and drinking water contamination).
October: After GRN conducted a presentation to the Louisiana Oyster Task force about the downstream impacts of the "One Lake" project to dam the Pearl in Jackson, Mississippi, the Task Force sent a letter to the the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources requesting that a Coastal Zone Consistency Review be conducted for the dam project, and that the project be rejected on the basis that other alternatives are less harmful to the Pearl River and coastal estuaries.
August: GRN, along with our partners Our Sante Fe River, the Sierra Club and Beyond Extreme Energy, brought together over 70 passionate community members and over a dozen organizations for the Grassroots Summit to Stop Sabal Trail in Gainesville, FL. At the Summit, we worked together to share information and develop strategies to stop Sabal trail, a 516-mile natural gas pipeline, and other similar projects in the region.
August: Through technical comments, hearings, and a legal challenge, GRN and partners pressured agencies to reverse a decision to lower wetland damage mitigation for the Maurepas Swamp, resulting in over 4,000 additional acres added to the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area. The mitigation preserves this swamp and bottomland forest against logging in exchange for Motiva' Louisiana Refining System pipeline impacts.
June: In the first half of 2016, two separate developers brought requests before the City of New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustments for exemptions to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance Stormwater Management requirements, which are designed to encourage sustainable development and reduce urban stormwater runoff. GRN worked with St. Peter Claver Micah Project and members of the surrounding neighborhood, the Treme, to arrange a meeting with the developers. At the meeting, residents reached an agreement with the developers on how they could meet their stormwater requirements and receive community support for the project - a win-win.
May: Plaquemines and Jefferson parish leaders and residents scored a key victory toward preserving their coastal communities from the proposed RAM export terminal when the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) decided to reconsider RAM’s coastal use permit. This proposed coal export terminal would have started mile-long uncovered coal trains running through nearby communities and would also have undermined a major project in Louisiana coastal restoration plans, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion.
April: Through the significant advocacy of the GRN and Texas residents, the RESTORE Council funded six restoration projects along the Texas Coast totaling $26 million through its Funded Priority List. These projects provide necessary resilience to coastal communities by conserving and restoring coastal corridors in the Bahia Grande and the Matagorda and Galveston Bay, as well as plugging eleven abandoned oil wells in the Padre Island Seashore.
February: In response to a lawsuit filed by GRN, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama prohibited Alabama and federal officials from spending $58.5 million dollars of BP drilling disaster “natural resource restoration” funds to construct a hotel and conference center along an Alabama beach.
Click here to see victories from previous years.