Tell your US Congressman to Vote "Yes" on the passing of the Restore Act this Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - and you will help restore the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, and the lives of those who were devastated by the BP Oil Spill.
About the Petition:
Decisions are being made in Washington DC by people who have never been to the Gulf of Mexico, nor do they understand what is happening to these coastal communities post BP Spill. Therefore, for the past two years, Friends of New Orleans (www.friendsofneworleans.org) has been working with a diverse cross section of Louisiana coastal leaders (see attached list*) and Global Green , in order to educate people about what is happening along the Gulf of Mexico after the April 20, 2010 oil spill that has been named the largest environmental disaster in US History. Based on our work with these leaders, we appeal to the American People to help us move the following Change.org petition forward which asks that US Congressmen support the Restore Act being voted on this coming Wednesday, April 18, 2010, as part of the Transportation Bill vote.
A Call to Action:
1. Call your US Congressmen and ask them to Pass the Restore Act which is being voted on this Wednesday, April 18, as part of the Transportation Bill.
2. Write to Louisiana Governor Jindal and ask that the State's Master Plan for Coastal Restoration include: a) meaningful participation and buy-in by local leaders/residents that were affected by the spill in the decision making process and implementation of the plan; b) a requirement that restoration contracts go to the local people, organizations and companies that suffered the most from the spill; c) mitigation for those whose livelihood will be affected by master plan actions such as diversions; d) more in-shore testing and research of coastal and Gulf ecosystems and wildlife; and e) investments in innovative solutions to coastal restoration, such as carbon markets, and for economic development in that region, such as aqua culture and hydroponics.
What All Americans Need to Know and Understand:
a) The oil is not gone! BP used large volumes of a highly toxic chemical dispersant in an attempt to "sink" the oil and give the appearance that the oil is gone. Just the opposite occurred and the Gulf's ecosystem - from the surface of the water to the bottom of the ocean floor - will be affected for years to come. There has been a dramatic increase in the mortality rate of many species and stories of how sick marine life and vegetation, within the water column and along the ocean floor, has been reported by coastal residents, sport and commercial fishermen, shrimpers, oystermen, recreational boaters, eco-tourists, naturalists and scientists alike.
b) Many residents along the Gulf's coastal communities have lost jobs and their health insurance, and are coping with depression and physical health problems as well. Upper respiratory infection, headaches, seizures, abdominal pains, high blood pressure, fatigue, heat intolerance, memory loss and paranoia. These complaints have remained relatively uniform and have come from people, across a five state area, who have been exposed to the oil and chemicals associated with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
c) The estuaries of Southern Louisiana, and the other coastal states, are the nurseries for the entire Gulf. Louisiana's coast and wetlands represent the largest such ecosystem in the United States, and provide 40% of the nation's seafood, in addition to essential storm protection for the entire Gulf Coast region from Florida to Texas. Louisiana and other coastal states also contribute heavily to the nation's economy and culture. The uniqueness, diversity and cultures that make up New Orleans, and the coastal areas of the Gulf are at stake.
d) It will take longer for the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal communities to recover from the BP spill than it did for the Prince William Sound, and the Alaskan communities surrounding it, to recover from the Exxon Valdez spill. The amount of oil (172 million gallons) and toxic dispersants (still unknown) that were dumped in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana during the BP Spill is much worse than the amount of oil that was dumped into the Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez Spill in 1989 (10.8 million gallons). The BP Spill has destroyed an important ecosystem/natural resource that will take multiple decades to restore.
What Louisiana Coastal Leaders Recommend Moving Forward:
a) The nation needs to make a serious commitment to restoring and protecting the wetlands, coastal areas and the Gulf of Mexico, and the ecosystems that exist in these.
b) BP needs to be held accountable.
c) A local resident/private citizen only led board or commission needs to be created that will be in charge of making the key decisions moving forward. Such a decision making body would ensure that: i) there is buy-in and input from those locals that were impacted the most by the spill; ii) that there is transparency throughout the decision and grant making process; and iii) that the money is directed to the most critical areas.
d) Decisions with regard to the recovery and future of this region should be made based on independently researched science/data, not politics.
e) Enforce the oil drilling safety laws that exist and develop new ones where there are "gaps". Any fines that are levied as a result of the spill, and that are related to the Clean Water Act, should be funneled back to the Gulf communities and not to some "coffer" or general fund where the money will be lost forever. Maximum fines should be implemented so that the recovery of the ecosystem can begin.
f) The RESTORE ACT must be passed. We need national support so Clean Water Act fine monies are utilized to fix the damage done by the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the impact of decades of this region providing oil/natural gas as well as the benefits of shipping for the rest of the nation.
For more information on the other recommendations made by these Louisiana coastal leaders, plus their bios, please go to Friends of New Orleans' website at (www.friendsofneworleans.org).
* Friends of New Orleans (FONO) wants to thank and recognize the following organizations and individuals for working with us over the past two years to advocate for the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, and Louisiana's wetlands, coastal areas and barrier islands:
Brenda Dardar-Robichaux, Community Leader and Former Principal Chief
Thomas Dardar Jr., Principal Chief
Kirk Cheramie, Manager and Program Director of the Houma Nation Radio Station
Atakapa-Ishak Tribe - Rosina Philippe, Tribal Leader and Director of Grand Bayou United
Grand Bayou United
Gulf Coast Fund:
LaTosha Brown, Former Executive Director
Brenda Dardar-Robichaux, Board Member
Anna Marie Seafood LLC - Lance Nacio, Commercial Shrimper and Leader of the White Boot Brigade
Louisiana Bayoukeeper, Inc. - Tracy Kuhns, Executive Director and Commercial Shrimper
Mary Queen of Vietnam CDC:
Father Vien, Founder and Chairman of the Board
Diem Nguyen, Executive Director
Tuan Nguyen, Deputy Director
Bayou Grace Community Services:
Courtney Howell, Former Executive Director
Rebecca Templeton, Executive Director
Diane Huhn, Environmental Outreach Coordinator
Redfish Lodge of Louisiana - Capt. Mike Frenette, Lodge Owner & Director of LA Charter Boat Assoc. Louisiana Charter Boat Assoc. and President of the CCA of Plaquemines Parish
CCA of Plaquemines Parish
AmeriPure Oyster Company - John A. Tesvich, President
Louisiana Oystermen Association - Byron Encalade, President
Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO):
Sharon Gauthe, Executive Director
David Gauthe, Legislative Liaison
Patricia Whitney, Environmental Advocate
Market Umbrella - Richard McCarthy, Executive Director
Len Bahr, Founding Editor and former LSU coastal science professor and coastal science and policy advisor in the Governor's office of Coastal Activities
Bob Marshall - Outdoors Editor for the Times Picayune and Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
Marie Gould and Bernice Kaufman - Founders of Huddled Masses (Marie started Lost Land Kayak Tours)
Carolyn Leftwich - Bywater Community Leader and FONO Community Outreach Volunteer
Global Green USA:
Matt Petersen, President and CEO
Beth Galante, Executive Director of Global Green New Orleans
Minor Sinclair, US Regional Director
Jeffrey Buchanan, Senior Domestic Policy Advisor
FONO Board Members (Past and Present) Involved in Advocating for Coastal Restoration:
CC Lockwood - Award Winning Nature Photographer (National Geographic, Ansel Adams Prize), author and leading conservationist in Louisiana.
James Carville - CNN Senior Political Commentator, Political Consultant, Chief Campaign Strategist for President Clinton, Talk Show Host, Author, and Film Actor/Producer
Mike Tidwell - Author of "Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast"; Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Climate Action Network
Stephen DeBerry - FONO Chairman, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Bronze Investments, Partner at Kapor Capital, Former Investment Director at Omidyar Network
Denise Byrne - FONO Executive Director and Founding Board Member