News and Updates
BP is not Making it Right
When it comes to the BP disaster, a big part of GRN's work is focused on ensuring BP is held accountable for restoring the Gulf's environment in the wake of this catastrophe. In part, that’s why we didn't weigh in sooner on the news stories popping up about BP’s attempt to wiggle out of their responsibility to compensate individuals and businesses for economic damagesthey suffered due to the oil disaster. However, it’s hard not to see these stories in the context of BP’s larger effort to minimize their responsibility for the damage they did (and are still doing) to the Gulf and its communities.
Back in March of last year, BP signed off on a settlement agreement for economic claims. Now, BP is calling into question the very claims process that it negotiated, and accusing Gulf residents and businesses of fraud. They are spending untold amounts of money trying to prove that people are making fraudulent claims, even setting up a hotline for this purpose. Yet, there is little evidence, if any, of widespread claims fraud.Read more: BP is not Making it Right
Mississippi Stretches NRDA Purpose with Latest Projects
On May 3rd Governor Phil Bryant announced four more Mississippi projects, totaling about $69 million, to be created with Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) money. This spending is supposed to compensate for natural resource damages done by BP oil. NRDA “early restoration” projects are meant to “partially restore injured natural resources and lost natural resource services.” The Governor’s team has really twisted this restoration purpose on three of Mississippi’s four projects on this latest list.
A $50 million dollar project in Hancock County seeks to create living shoreline and marsh. Forty six acres of marsh are to be constructed along with 46 acres of sub-tidal oyster reefs. So far, so good – this is the kind of project that NRDA money is supposed to fund. The other three projects come to a total of 18.9 million and, taken together, these three will construct buildings and boardwalks, pour thousands of cubic yards of concrete, build a greenhouse, and purchase and install interactive museum exhibits. Contrast this with a Florida project that proposes $11 million to remove thousands of cubic yards of concrete and asphalt that is scattered over the Santa Rosa Island section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.Read more: Mississippi Stretches NRDA Purpose with Latest Projects
Communities weigh in on Restoration Draft Plan
Gulf Future. Members of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council were invited to share a meal with community members and listen to their discussion about how Gulf restoration should move forward to protect both the natural resources and the people who live and work on the coast.Last week we wrapped up a series of community meetings that were held in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and co-hosted with several other organizations as part of
These meetings complemented the public hearings, by reaching into other, diverse communities and facilitating small group discussions about the priorities and objectives in the Council’s Draft Plan. The turnout to these meetings was great (not to mention the food!) and the Council representatives and state government officials got to hear clearly the value of Advisory Committees and seeing with their own eyes the interest in their work from smaller coastal communities.Read more: Communities weigh in on Restoration Draft Plan
Gulf Restoration Draft Plan is Missing a Lot of Detail
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released on Thursday a draft initial comprehensive plan for spending Clean Water Act fines on projects that will restore Gulf’s ecosystem and economy. The draft plan, required by the RESTORE Act, is open for public comment through June. This much anticipated plan landed like a thud, though, because in its 20 pages, there is really not much there.
The draft plan failed to include a priority list or spending allocation plan and the Council lists excuses like, the “uncertainty related to the overall amount and availability of funds deposited” in the RESTORE Act trust fund, the failure of the U.S. Treasury to issue procedures for spending trust fund money, and the council’s intent to request public input on the plan. So what we got is a broad vision for restoring the Gulf with some goals for spending the money: restore and conserve habitat, restore water quality, replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources, enhance community resilience, and restore and revitalize the Gulf economy.Read more: Gulf Restoration Draft Plan is Missing a Lot of Detail
How the Natural Resources Damage Assessment money could actually cause more damage
Gulf Future Groups Release “Guidance for Sustainable Restoration”
Today, Gulf Future held press events in New Orleans, LA and Biloxi, MS to release Gulf Future Guidance for Sustainable Restoration. This document was drafted by fifty-nine organizations from across the Gulf at the 2013 Gulf Gathering in March. Through two days of discussion we outlined our vision and priorities for how the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, created by the RESTORE Act, should focus while selecting projects to fund with the BP Deepwater Horizon fines and penalties. By prioritizing ecosystem restoration and the economic benefits it will have for local communities, and by creating safe, healthy and just communities, the Council can build a better, more sustainable Gulf Coast.
Read more: Gulf Future Groups Release “Guidance for Sustainable Restoration”
Report: Gulf Wildlife Three Years Into the Oil Disaster
Posted from National Wildlife Federation
April 2, 2013 – As the three-year mark of the Gulf oil disaster approaches, a new National Wildlife Federation report gives a snapshot view of six important species in the Gulf of Mexico and makes recommendations as to how we can restore their habitats and the Gulf as a whole.
“Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” said Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation and lead report author. “Dolphins are still dying in high numbers in the areas affected by oil. These ongoing deaths—particularly in an apex predator like the dolphin—are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”
Restoring a Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Three Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster looks at how different species of wildlife across the northern Gulf are faring in the wake of the oil disaster:Read more: Report: Gulf Wildlife Three Years Into the Oil Disaster
BP Trial Begins - Here's what you should know and what you can do
As the trial begins, BP contends that the company should not be taking the majority of the responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. They argue that Transocean (whom a judge recently ordered to pay $1 billion in fines) and Halliburton were equally at fault in the disaster. BP also contends that the amount of oil spilled (estimated by the federal government to be more than 4 million barrels) is an overestimation of at least 20 percent. BP claims to have contained and collected 810,000 barrels of oil, the penalty should be based on no more than 3.1 million barrels, it said.
While BP claims that blame should be shared, Transocean and Halliburton both claim that they were following BPs lead, and insist that BP holds most of the responsibility.
While BP believes that it should be held to a more lenient standard, the Department of Justice has accumulated emails, documents, and testimonials in order to pursue charges of gross negligence.
There is a proposed settlement, which BP has yet to accept, offers BP the opportunity to pay $16 billion: $6 billion in Clean Water Act fines, $9 billion to resolve environmental penalties (NRDA - which would be tax deductible for the company), and $1 billion to cover unanticipated environmental damages. This is NOT ENOUGH. BP should pay every cent that it owes which includes upwards of $20 billion for CWA violations alone.Read more: BP Trial Begins - Here's what you should know and what you can do
Share your ideas on restoring the Gulf
So much has happened in the last twelve months that is finally moving us closer to making ecosystem restoration a reality. Last year, the RESTORE Act passed, ensuring 80% of the Clean Water Act fines from the BP Drilling Disaster will come to the Gulf states for ecosystem restoration and economic recovery. Then in January, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released The Path Forward to Restoring the Gulf Coast, which is the early stage of plan development and the Council will release a draft plan for public comment this Spring.
This week, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is holding public meetings in across the Gulf to hear ideas about restoration. I hope you can attend one of these meetings to make your voice heard!
The meeting times are locations are:
Wednesday, February 20
Louisiana – 5:00 PM CST
University of New Orleans, Homer Hitt Alumni Center Ballroom, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA
Thursday, February 21
Louisiana – 5:00 PM CST
Lack Charles Civic Center, Jean Lafitte Room, 900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles, LA
Thursday, February 28
Florida – 6:00 PM EST
Student Union East Conference Center, Gulf Coast State College, 5230 W. U.S. 98, Panama City Beach, FL
You can get ideas on what to say to support of the Gulf's natural resources by downloading our talking points.
As billions of dollars dedicated for restoration begin to flow to the Gulf, it is critical that we closely monitor the process for selecting and funding projects. We want to be sure that the maximum amount of funding is spent on restoring our unique ecosystem and protecting our marine and coastal environment. The Council needs to understand that ecosystem restoration is economic recovery, and the only path forward for a resilient Gulf.
It is vitally important that everyone’s voice is heard, so please consider standing up to share some of your thoughts or the GRN messages that you can download here.
To learn more about the Council and get details about upcoming meetings, visit www.restorethegulf.gov
What we heard from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Meeting
This week the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council met for the first time in Mobile, AL. This Council, established by the RESTORE Act, will oversee spending of the 80% of the Clean Water Act fines BP will pay for the 2010 oil disaster. Although the exact amount of those fines or when they might be coming is still unclear, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council is getting a head start on establishing priorities and getting public input.
Aaron Viles and I were at this meeting to represent Gulf Restoration Network and our members in urging the new Council to prioritize effective, scientifically-backed ecosystem restoration projects, and to remind the Council that restoring the environment restores our economy.
There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room and an impressive turn out of state and federal officials, as well as members of the public. Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank opened the meeting by highlighting the importance of the Gulf Coast and drawing attention to the legacy challenges that have existed in the region long before BP’s oil. The goal of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, she said, should be the “long term health, prosperity, and environment of Gulf Coast communities.” Thankfully, even before GRN could speak on the subject, Blank also pointed out that economic development and coastal restoration are not “either-or”, but rather they are linked and must work together.Read more: What we heard from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Meeting
Transocean agrees to plead guilty, pay $1.4 billion in fines over 2010 Gulf spill
By NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on January 03, 2013 at 4:33 PM, updated January 03, 2013 at 8:24 PM
Mark Schleifstein and Richard Thompson
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Transocean Ltd., the owner of the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig that was leased to BP when its Macondo well erupted off the Louisiana coast in 2010, has agreed to pay $1.4 billion in civil and criminal fines and penalties for its role in the massive oil spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, the company and the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Under the deal, Transocean, the Houston-based offshore driller, has agreed to plead guilty and pay $1 billion to resolve federal Clean Water Act civil penalty claims -- 80 percent of which will be directed to projects aimed at alleviating effects of the spill under the federal RESTORE Act -- and another $400 million in criminal fines and penalties for federal offshore drilling safety violations in the events leading to the Gulf spill.
The settlement, which will be subject to a 21-day public comment period and must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, involves only issues that would have arisen during the first phase of a trial in New Orleans over the spill that is to begin on Feb. 25.Read more: Transocean agrees to plead guilty, pay $1.4 billion in fines over 2010 Gulf spill
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