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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘coastal restoration’

BP Oilpocalypse Threatens New Orleans’s Very Existence

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Steve Wereley [of] . . . Purdue University, told NPR the actual spill rate of the BP oil disaster is about 3 million gallons a day—15 times the official guess of BP and the federal government. . . . Eugene Chiang . . . [of] the University of California, Berkeley, calculated the rate of flow to be between 840,000 and four million gallons a day. These estimates mean that the Deepwater Horizon wreckage could have spilled about five times as much oil as the 12-million-gallon Exxon Valdez disaster, with relief only guaranteed by BP in three more months.  Experts: BP Disaster Spilling the Equivalent of Two Exxon Valdezes a Week” | ThinkProgress.org

We have a dream—and it may sound wicked, but its cause is just.

If our wish could come true, the “volcano of oil” unleashed by BP would be driven eastward by ocean currents out of the Gulf of Mexico, loop around the pristine shores of Florida, and sweep up the Atlantic seaboard, hovering offshore just close enough to terrorize and activate the American public and elected officials to finally swear off the national addiction to oil. Let the nation get a taste of what’s sickening Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

As long as we’re visualizing a targeted spread of two Exxon Valdezes per week’s worth of oil, we’d like to see it hovering like an evil genie from a lamp and dripping, dripping malodorously down on the homes and finely manicured lawns of all politicians who have accepted campaign contributions from the oil industry for their votes favoring lax regulations, expanded drilling rights, and low or no royalty revenues for Louisiana.

Fellow Americans who benefit from Gulf Coast oil, it’s time to push Congress and governors to begin developing of alternative energy sources, electric cars, and massive investment in public transportation. (The U.S. is already deep in debt for oil-driven wars, so let’s shift gears and spend instead on immediate national security + new jobs.)

Everyone (almost) is already worried about the Big Spill’s damage to the livelihood of Gulf Coast fishermen and related businesses and the threat to birds, fish, oysters, shellfish, and other coastal fauna. Dead dolphins and sea turtles are pathetic and sickening. But also stomach-turning, terrifying—and possibly fatal to New Orleans—is the fact that the BP “oilpocalypse” is killing the sea grass and other vegetation in the already imperiled, already dwindling Louisiana wetlands that serve as a buffer against hurricanes’ storm surge.

Here’s how it works: Every 2.5 to 4 miles of wetlands reduce hurricane storm surges by about a foot; measured another way, each mile of marsh reduces storm surges by 3 to 9 inches. To protect against the awesome 25- to 30-foot storm surges brought by massive cyclones like Katrina and the Category 5 Hurricane Camille in 1969, for safety southern Louisiana would want (in addition to the barrier islands that have all but washed away) about 50 to 75 miles of wetlands between the Gulf of Mexico and the city of New Orleans. But metro New Orleans, home to about 1.5 million, is now protected by a buffer no more than about 20 miles of wetlands.

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“Break the Addiction” : A New Ad from Greenpeace

Monday, May 3rd, 2010



“Something Called ‘Volcano Monitoring’ ”

Friday, April 16th, 2010

[cross-posted at Daily Kos]

“[The Democrats’ stimulus] legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes . . . $140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.” —Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, Feb. 24, 2009

Remember Bobby Jindal’s celebrated response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009? It included some, uh, noteworthy moments, not the least of which was his sneer at such “wasteful spending” as “something called ‘volcano monitoring.’” Some speechwriter was probably pleased with that line, but this was a contemptuous display of ignorance on the level of Rudy Giuliani’s ridiculing “community organizer—what’s that?” (6:08) at the 2008 Republican National Convention, and just as deserving of a reality-based comeuppance.

The $140 million for the U.S. Geological Survey was partly intended to provide warnings of impending volcanic eruptions in the U.S. and around the world where American military bases are located. The Americans at Ramstein Air Base in Germany probably appreciate that monitoring equipment right about now.

With international air traffic to Europe disrupted for a second straight day following a massive volcano eruption in Iceland (some 17,000 flights were canceled Friday), we have to use the occasion to poke this over-ambitious governor in the eye and say: “Now do you get it?” Jindal the boy genius used to be respected for his intelligence (Rhodes Scholar) and precocious grasp of complex policy, but those days are over. He is not serving his state or the nation—and not his own career, either—by his know-nothing, anti-science statements and decisions. (See our earlier posts “Mr. Jindal, Tear Down This Ambition” and “From Rising Star to Black Hole.”)

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U.S. Employment Grows by Highest Rate in Three Years

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Bloomberg reports recovery from worst recession since 1930s is “broadening and becoming more entrenched”

Some good news on the employment front: The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that while the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent, the national economy added 162,000 jobs in March. This figure includes the government’s hiring of 48,000 temporary workers for the Census, and private employers’ adding 123,000 jobs, the most since May 2007. Republicans and conservative “news outlets” are pushing the line that all the increase is due only to the temporary hiring of Census workers, but in fact the trend has been growing for several months—March’s is the third gain in the past five months—as shown in the graphic above and as detailed here by Bloomberg News.

This is all good but it’s not good enough. Too many millions are still unemployed and underemployed. We supported and still support the stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) of 2009 but we want at least another stimulus bill that big with more job-creation. We have also advocated a Civilian Conservation Corps–like jobs program to restore the coast of southern Louisiana and other fragile, flood-prone environments (Sacramento and environs, for example, could also use some help). America’s infrastructure is in serious disrepair—the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the U.S.A. a D grade and estimates a five-year investment of $.2.2 trillion is needed to get the nation back in shape. There’s some jobs waiting to be filled. What we need is political will, incessant pressure on Congress and the White House. You know how to get it done: Roll up sleeves, pick up phone . . .



Mitch Landrieu for Mayor of New Orleans

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Mitch Is the Man

New Orleanians, the best way to make the Saints lucky on Sunday in the Super Bowl is by casting your ballot early and often (encore, repetez!) for Mitchell J. Landrieu as mayor of the great City of New Orleans. This is also the best way to boost the city’s fortunes for four years (at least). We are indeed fortunate to have a candidate so thoroughly qualified, politically able, well liked, and, yes, ethical. Let’s make it a Super Weekend, a one-two punch, Saturday and Sunday. Who dat say dey gonna beat Mitch?

Among many admirable qualities in this New Orleans native (he grew up in Broadmoor, graduated from Jesuit, and earned his law degree at Loyola), one that particularly impresses us is the fact that as lieutenant governor he was an early and vigorous supporter of the America’s Wetland Conservation Corps: he pushed America’s Wetland to affiliate with AmeriCorps to combine AW’s conservation agenda with the youth public service program to make Louisiana a better, greener place. Mitch gets it, and it’s working. The AWCC is administered by the Louisiana Serve Commission in the office of the lieutenant governor. Our regular readers know that we have been pushing for a new Civilian (or Coastal) Conservation Corps for the urgent job of restoring the Louisiana coastline to serve as a critical buffer from hurricane storm surges. Levees are not enough. Read more about AWCC here, and our plan for a new CCC here (at LaCoastPost).

In addition to the highly coveted endorsement of this blog, Landrieu has been endorsed by the Times-PicayuneGambit Weekly, the Louisiana WeeklyNew Orleans CityBusiness, the New Orleans firefighters, and the Alliance for Good Government.

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Coastal Conservation Corps:
A New CCC for Coastal Restoration—and Jobs

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Linoleum block print by Friedolin Kessler, CCC, 1936.

Linoleum block print by Friedolin Kessler, CCC, 1936.

Levees Not War is pleased to direct your attention to LaCoastPost, where you can read a guest post titled “Why Not Institute a ‘Green’ Corps for the Coast?”, or, “Reinventing the CCC and WPA.” In collaboration with LaCoastPost editor Len Bahr, a coastal science and policy adviser to five Louisiana governors, we propose a Coastal Civilian Corps—a new CCC for our time—as a workable remedy for the widespread unemployment and environmental degradation besetting Louisiana and the nation. Both Levees Not War and LaCoastPost have recommended a CCC for coastal restoration before + a new WPA for infrastructure reinforcement. Now, with the still bleak employment outlook and the urgent need for defense against hurricane storm surge, plus the likelihood of a new push for further stimulus legislation in Congress, we think it’s time to press for a new CCC—and we urge activists and public officials in all 50 states to press for similar legislation nationwide. Read all about it at LaCoastPost.



“The Brown Pelican Is Back”

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

An Environmental Protection Success Story
Detail from the Bank of New Orleans, Magazine Street.

Detail from the Bank of New Orleans, Magazine Street.

The brown pelican, a species that was driven nearly to extinction by use of the pesticide D.D.T., has grown back in strong enough numbers that the admirable bird has been removed from the endangered species list. The decision was announced Wednesday by officials of the U.S. Interior Department in a ceremony with Senator Mary Landrieu at Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe, Louisiana. The brown pelican was declared endangered in 1970. Pelicans would eat fish that contained traces of D.D.T., and the pesticide’s weakening of calcium in the eggshell would cause the birds’ eggs to be so thin that they would break during incubation. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and other birds were similarly affected. D.D.T. was banned in 1972 (but we’re not safe yet).

Christine Harvey of the Times-Picayune explains the announcement in illuminating detail. She reports that Senator Landrieu used the occasion of the visit by Interior assistant secretary Tom Strickland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services director Sam Hamilton

to convene a closed meeting between the Interior officials and about 75 coastal restoration “stakeholders” representing state agencies, universities, local governments and environmental groups in an effort to press the Obama administration on its commitment to speeding the state’s coastal restoration process.

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Levees Not War Meets LaCoastPost

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

LaCoastPostWe regretted missing the annual Katrina bloggerfest and live social networking known as Rising Tide 4 in New Orleans this past August—an omission we hope not to repeat. By way of making up for some of that fellow blogger community spirit, last week we took a long drive across the famous Pontchartrain Causeway (the world’s longest bridge) to meet with Dr. Len Bahr, founding editor of LaCoastPost and a former coastal adviser to many Louisiana governors.

Good conversation, a lunch of Church’s fried chicken + chilled Abita Turbodog, and Neil Young on the CD player . . .

We read LaCoastPost regularly—as does “everyone who’s anyone” in Louisiana coastal and environmental affairs (including, we suspect, some governors). We recommend the Post to anyone interested in the dire predicament of Louisiana’s scenic, fertile, hurricane-buffering wetlands, as well as in helpings of inside scoop on Louisiana politics. In addition to “scuttlebutt” updates—who’s reporting what, from the Times-Picayune to Science News—Len has recently run a series on the late Dr. Percy Viosca, “an unsung coastal hero” who foresaw Louisiana’s environmental predicament many decades ago. Also, a guest series by David Muth of the Jean Lafitte Historical Park and Preserve looks at why Florida’s Everglades has been made a national park but the nationally vital Mississippi River delta ecosystem ain’t got nuthin’ but land loss. Indeed, says Muth, “Louisiana has lost more landscape since 1930 (2,300 sq. mi.) than the current official size of the Everglades National Park (2,200).”

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