BP Oil Disaster 1st Anniversary Event to Urge Congress to Get Together and Get Gulf Restoration Done


BP Oil Disaster 1st Anniversary Event to Urge Congress to Get Together and Get Gulf Restoration Done

Guided Tours Will Show Oil Spill Damage to Degraded Wetlands, How to Revitalize Them

News conference and guided boat tours one year after the BP oil disaster, which caused major damage to wildlife and the fishing and tourism industries in coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Florida.  The oil spill could cost the Gulf tourism industry alone $22.7 billion in lost revenues, according to a study by Oxford Economics.  News conference speakers will urge Congress to dedicate Clean Water Act fines to restore degraded coastal wetlands that will be shown on the boat tours and provide limited aerial tours of the Wax Lake Outlet canal project that’s building new land called the Wax Lake Delta (b-roll of Wax Lake, maps showing historical wetlands loss, wetlands, waterfowl and fishing is available for TV outlets that can’t go on tour).  A bipartisan group of Louisiana delegation members have introduced bills in both the Senate (RESTORE Act) and House (H.R. 56) that would dedicate 80 percent of CWA fines to restoring the Gulf Coast.

BP’s fines for the oil spill belong in the Gulf, where the damage was done, not in the federal treasury.  Leaders from around the Gulf have shown great leadership by introducing legislation in both houses of Congress to ensure that BP fines are used for restoration, instead of being deposited in the Federal Treasury.  Congressional leaders in the Gulf are now being urged to get together and get Gulf restoration done.

BP oil disaster 1st anniversary, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

10:30am-11:00am: News Conference, Myrtle Grove Marina, 161 Marina Rd., Port Sulphur, La.
11:15am-12:45am: Boat Tours depart marina to see oil damage in Barataria Bay and Bay Jimmy
9:30am-11:30am/1pm-3pm: Limited Aerial Tours of Wax Lake Delta depart from nearby Southern Seaplane Airport, 1 Coquille Dr., Belle Chasse, La.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), sponsor of H.R. 56 to dedicate 80% of CWA fines to Gulf restoration
Larry Schweiger, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation
Anne Milling, Founder, Women of the Storm
Chris Canfield, VP, Gulf of Mexico Conservation and Restoration, National Audubon Society
Paul Harrison, Sr. Dir., Mississippi River Delta Restoration Project, Environmental Defense Fund
Olivia Bouler, 11-year-old artist, activist, author of “Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf” about how one small girl’s big idea inspired the nation to protect America’s Gulf Coast for generations to come

Damage from the BP oil disaster would have been reduced if coastal Louisiana’s ecologically and economically important coastal ecosystem had not been weakened badly by decades of: 1) digging canals through the wetlands for thousands of miles of oil pipelines; 2) dredging of the Mississippi River to facilitate shipping; and 3) levee construction to prevent flooding.  These actions cut off Mississippi River sediment that used to build and restore wetlands that once provided protection against sinking land, storms and hurricanes (watch “Before the BP Oil Disaster – Decades of Destruction”).  As a result, since 1930, coastal Louisiana has lost nearly 1.5 million acres of wetlands, an area larger than the state of Delaware.  The solution is to restore the Mississippi River delta wetlands by using the river’s energy, water and sediment to rebuild them.  In fact, it’s already happening at the Wax Lake Outlet, at the mouth of the Atchafalaya River, which the Mississippi River feeds into.  In 1941, the Army Corps of Engineers dug a canal from the Atchafalaya River to Atchafalaya Bay.  An unexpected result of this canal project was that the river sediment built 25 square miles of new land now known as the Wax Lake Delta (watch “Wax Lake Delta: a diversion that works”).

Sean Crowley, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.550.6524-c, scrowley@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, guidrye@nwf.org
David J. Ringer, National Audubon Society, 601.642.7058, dringer@audubon.org