Gulf Future - Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf
One year after it began, BP’s oil drilling disaster is not over. America’s Gulf Coast is still suffering, and we need the support of the nation for a full and fair recovery. This is an on-going environmental and humanitarian crisis. BP’s crude and toxic dispersants continue to impact the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Coast, poisoning people, killing wildlife, threatening ecosystems, and putting fishermen and tourism workers out of jobs. After a full year, Congress and the federal government have yet to adequately act to restore and protect the Gulf, and BP is working to minimize their liability and the perception of the severity their disaster’s impacts.
All along the Gulf Coast, however, communities, citizens, and non-profit organizations are coming together to address the crisis and restore our Gulf. We are a diverse group, representing fishermen, faith leaders, environmentalists, clean-up workers, and residents who live, work, and play on the Gulf Coast. We come from all five Gulf Coast states, and represent culturally and racially diverse communities.
We've all been impacted by the BP oil disaster, and together, we have come up with a way forward. The "Gulf Future: Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf" addresses four areas of concern, marine restoration and resiliency, coastal restoration and resiliency, community recovery and resiliency, and public health. This plan represents our immediate goals - including specific demands of Congress, federal agencies, and the Obama administration - for a healthy and whole Gulf Coast. In the coming weeks and months, we will work together to realize these goals.
Marine Restoration and Resiliency
To provide that injury to the marine environment of the Gulf is fully assessed, we must ensure that (1) the Ecosystem Restoration Task Force is comprehensive (e.g. includes marine considerations), thorough, transparent, and participatory; (2) that the NRDA process fully assess damage to the marine environment; (3) that there is funding for independent scientific research, and that there is ongoing monitoring and assessment of damage and restoration progress.
When future spills occur, local residents must be provided with access to impacted areas, allowing citizens and local officials’ oversight of the response by responsible parties and the government.
The administration and Congress must take action now to implement the Oil Spill Commission recommendations, including the creation of a Regional Citizens Advisory Council to oversee future oil and gas activity in the Gulf, and prohibit the use of dispersant until found to be safe to the marine environment.
Coastal Restoration and Resiliency
80% of Clean Water Act fines resulting from the BP drilling disaster must be directed to ecosystem restoration in the Gulf coast.
Federal and state restoration plans must support ecosystem and science-based strategies to increase ecological and community resiliency and sustainability. *These strategies must:
- Have measurable objectives that address root causes of degradation and injury
- Include a set of priorities on how to implement restoration projects, a timeline for implementation, and a process to evaluate their ecological effectiveness following implementation
- Incorporate stakeholder input in the decision-making process
All Gulf restoration efforts must have a governing structure to direct restoration efforts across agencies
Congress must act now to ensure the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process is fully funded
*Please click here for a restoration project decision matrix
Community Recovery and Resiliency
State and Federal government must build a shared resilience strategy for all communities to self-determine and engage in a meaningful way in the recovery of the Gulf Coast.
- Create of a formal Community Advisory Mechanism that will contribute toward building resilient Gulf communities and a sustainable economy.
- Create and sustain community-based capacity to mitigate and respond to incidents.
State and Federal government must create a sustainable and diverse economy by Gulf States leading the nation in incentives and investment in renewable energy industries.
- Ensure local communities can compete for jobs in this new economy by providing education, training and workforce development and giving preference to utilizing and benefiting local workers, businesses and institutions
- Restoration legislation must foster innovative collaborations for economic diversification, equitable and sustainable economic growth and new career pathways connected to Gulf Coast restoration, science and monitoring.
Affordable, accessible health care is must be made available at the county/parish level provided by well trained medical professionals who understand chemical exposure issues.
- Educate healthcare providers and the public on oil-spill related illnesses addressing both physical and mental health impacts.
- Track health impacts and illnesses through government studies and community efforts.
- Secure affordable, accessible and quality healthcare by opening community clinics, holding health fairs, requesting emergency clinics.
We must have an integrated environmental assessment program that monitors health & ecosystem risks on the Gulf coast for 10 years.
- Long-term monitoring of water, soil, air, and biota for oil-spill related contaminants by relevant state and federal agencies that addresses current gaps and is informed by community concerns.
- Public clearinghouse of environmental data that includes, agency monitoring and studies, academic research, community testing, and NRDA studies/results.
- Training and certification of Gulf Coast residents to conduct environmental monitoring.
- Independent review of the safety of dispersant chemicals and other oil treatments.
We must establish new comprehensive federal monitoring standards that guarantee safety of seafood eaten in quantities typical of Gulf Coast populations.
- Independent scientific review of FDA Gulf seafood safety assessment methods.
- Revised standards for contaminant levels in Gulf seafood that protect vulnerable populations and reflect the full spectrum of oil-spill related contaminants (including metals and oil-range-organics).
- Long-term seafood monitoring program of state and federal waters.
- Revised education and outreach materials that identify and inform vulnerable populations.