Gulf Oil Disaster

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

State budget cuts may imperil Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 5:15 PM

Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Head of Planning Bren Haase presents the 2017 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection Feb. 1. - MATT HOUSTON
  • Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Head of Planning Bren Haase presents the 2017 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection Feb. 1.

The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection unanimously recommended adoption of the 2017 Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast Wednesday, but worried possible forthcoming budget cuts could jeopardize some projects.

This year’s plan focuses on flood risk reduction and resilience, and applies new science to existing restoration projects in the state. It includes 120 projects that would build or maintain 800 square miles of land and could reduce expected storm damage by $150 billion over the next 50 years.

Louisiana would spend about $50 billion on the projects through 2067, half earmarked for restoration and the other half to risk reduction.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Scientists and fishermen share Deepwater Horizon stories at Feb. 6 event

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:08 PM

An aerial view of Grand Terre Shows leaked oil flowing up against a sand berm.
  • An aerial view of Grand Terre Shows leaked oil flowing up against a sand berm.

At a live storytelling event held Monday, Feb. 6, oceanographers, restoration ecologists and fishermen take the stage to share personal accounts of their experiences during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, when over 130 million gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico in the largest spill in U.S. history. The show is sponsored by the Story Collider podcast, which organizes and records storytelling events related to science.

As President Donald Trump's public comments on energy continue to reflect a pro-drilling stance, events like this can highlight some of drilling's risks for coastal communities, including ongoing struggles for Gulf animals, fish and plants and an estimated $94.7 million cost to area commercial fishermen.

The free event takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Club XLIV and Encore at Champions Square. Registration is recommended.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Editorial: Our pledge to you

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:00 AM

President-elect Donald Trump. - CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • President-elect Donald Trump.

America’s political landscape will change dramatically after the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in January 2017. Already there are mixed messages coming from his transition team as to some of the promises he made while running. For now, we can only go by the man’s words and how they may affect Louisianans.

In the weeks and months to come, we will be keeping an eye on the following:

• The president-elect has promised to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but has provided few details. As of mid-November, more than 339,000 previously uninsured Louisianans are receiving health care through the ACA. We promise to outline their options and find out from doctors which screenings, tests and procedures they should get done now should the ACA go away — with a special focus on women's health care. (Meanwhile, the open enrollment period continues through the end of January; visit

• The president-elect has made it clear that he does not believe in climate change and promises to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and key environmental protections. We promise to speak out for clean air, clean water and Louisiana’s fragile coast.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Art activists Liberate Tate present "Insides/Outsides" talk in New Orleans Oct. 18

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 2:03 PM

Liberate Tate's "Human Cost" installation. - AMY SCAIFE
  • Liberate Tate's "Human Cost" installation.

The activist art collective Liberate Tate, best known for its unsanctioned and guerrilla-ish installations and performances in London’s prestigious Tate Galleries, delivers a “lecture-performance” at Pelican Bomb Gallery X next week in an event presented by Bureau of Change.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson talk about the making of Deepwater Horizon

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Dylan O'Brien, left, and Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon, which was filmed in New Orleans and opens here Sept. 30.
  • Dylan O'Brien, left, and Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon, which was filmed in New Orleans and opens here Sept. 30.

"Make sure you get it right."

Sporting a simple black T-shirt, with waves of long brown hair cascading from his Wahlburgers-branded baseball cap, actor and producer Mark Wahlberg, fresh from his 6:30 a.m. tee time, recounts his local golf buddies' initial reaction to Deepwater Horizon: A certain skepticism, born of their belief in the story's importance.

The film, opening in theaters Friday, is a tense, often terrifying depiction of the blowout, explosion, and subsequent fire aboard the offshore oil-drilling rig on April 20, 2010, killing 11, injuring 17, and leading to the largest oil spill in U.S. history. It's Deepwater Horizon's focus on "the human tragedy" that motivated Wahlberg, who plays the rig's chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, to bring the project to fruition.

"When I realized that 11 people lost their lives, I was a bit surprised that there wasn't enough attention put on that," Wahlberg says, echoing co-stars Kate Hudson and Kurt Russell and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. In their recollections, it was the potential ecological consequences of the BP oil discharge, and not the disaster that started it, which broke through to the national consciousness in the spring and summer of 2010.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

New York Times on "the most ambitious environmental lawsuit ever"

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 2:39 PM

  • John Barry.
In this week's New York Times Magazine, Nathaniel Rich explores Louisiana's march into the sea, and "the most ambitious environmental lawsuit ever" filed by "the most unlikely of antagonists," John Barry. Barry — Gambit's 2013 New Orleanian of the Year and the 2014 King of Krewe du Vieux — is an expert on flood control policy and formerly sat on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) board. He led the lawsuit in question against 97 oil and gas companies to hold them accountable for their role in the pipeline-scarred coastal land loss over the last century.

Rich pitches Louisiana's coastal land loss in a way the magazine's namesake might take notice.
Were this rate of land loss applied to New York, Central Park would disappear in a month. Manhattan would vanish within a year and a half. The last of Brooklyn would dissolve four years later. New Yorkers would notice this kind of land loss. The world would notice this kind of land loss. But the hemorrhaging of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands has gone largely unremarked upon beyond state borders
Following the suit, Barry was not nominated for another term on the board, and Gov. Bobby Jindal led legislation to kill the lawsuit. Jindal declined comment on the New York Times story. Barry — as Clancy DuBos had predicted — spoke freely with Rich about the genesis of the lawsuit during his time on the board and Jindal's plan to ensure the lawsuit's (and Barry's) failure:
During [the 2014 Louisiana Legislative session], about 70 lobbyists from the oil and gas industry were in the legislative chambers. They worked in concert with the governor’s staff to secure support for a bill that would void the lawsuit. “They turned on the fire hose,” one veteran energy lobbyist said. “It was the best organized effort I have ever seen,” another said.
Rich also asked state Sen. Robert Adley, a longtime oil and gas employee who opposed the lawsuit, whether his position was a conflict of interest, and Adley put that on his voters: "They know what industry I’m in. They choose to send me there." He later added that the lawsuit and Barry's fight are merely for Barry's upcoming book.

Rich also wrote about Louisiana's disappearing self for The New Republic published earlier this week.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Legislature’s Godzilla

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 9:35 PM

In a New York Times op-ed published late last month about Senate Bill 469, retired Lt. General Russel Honore wrote, “The oil and gas industries and pipeline companies aren’t responsible for all of Louisiana’s coastal loss. Nobody claims that they are. It’s important, though, that the industry be held to account for the damage it has done.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal clearly disagrees with Honore. Jindal, who was absent from much of the recently concluded 2014 legislative session in Baton Rouge, staunchly supported SB 469. The bill’s aim is clear: it’s designed to kill a Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies whose energy-related activities in southeast Louisiana have contributed to coastal land loss, an increased risk of hurricane-related flooding and higher costs of flood protection.

Jindal was all set to sign SB 469 into law at a June 2 press conference. Then, in a move that surprised both sides, the governor instead postponed his signature at the request of Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, who asked for time to review the bill.

Caldwell was right to ask the governor to delay signing the measure. Shortly after SB 469 passed, a group of legal scholars opined that its retroactive provisions could actually undercut dozens — possibly hundreds — of pending lawsuits brought by parishes and state agencies against oil giant BP for damages related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. (As of the evening of June 5, more than 80 scholars had signed the legal opinion.) The experts, along with a growing number of local officials, say SB 469 is so overly broad that it could scuttle countless other legal claims that have nothing to do with the SLFPA-E lawsuit.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oil money fuels Jindal's opposition to lawsuit, groups say

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Environmental groups illustrated Gov. Bobby Jindal as a puppet to the oil and gas industry.
  • Environmental groups illustrated Gov. Bobby Jindal as a "puppet" to the oil and gas industry.

Environmental groups slammed "Million Dollar Man" Gov. Bobby Jindal for what they call his "aggressive stance" against the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit, which targets 97 oil and gas companies for their role in wetlands loss. The groups — Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Global Green, League of Women Voters,, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Sierra Club and Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans — revealed on Aug. 28 more than $1 million in campaign contributions that Jindal received from oil and gas companies.

The groups showed a list of contributors to his gubernatorial campaigns beginning in 2003 with his first push for governor. The list did not include contributions to his congressional campaign. It's no secret that the oil and gas industry — among the state's largest — backs Louisiana political campaigns. The issue here, according to the groups, is Jindal's contributions fuel his opposition to the lawsuit.

"There is absolutely no other reason why Bobby Jindal refuses to make the oil industry pay for the coast it acknowledges it destroyed," said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. "There's no other explanation other than the fact he has received over $1 million in contributions."

Among the 230 contributions the group showed, Jindal received an average of $4,000 beginning in 2003, according to campaign filings with the state Board of Ethics. Helis Oil and Gas contributed $25,000 alone.

What the group didn't show: based on filings with the Federal Election Commission, in his 2004 campaign for Louisiana's first congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jindal received thousands of dollars from oil and gas companies, including $16,000 from Magnum Producing and $13,000 from Oil & Gas Rental Services Inc. His contributions from oil and gas in his tenure total $251,000. (Oil and gas comes in second only to the health industry, which contributed $324,794 to his campaigns.)

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Y@ Speak: problem solvers

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 12:45 PM

We're an industrious people, New Orleans. We won't let a water boil order disrupt our morning, or let oil get in the way of our wetlands. Or maybe we do. OK, sometimes we do. But we try really hard, right? We are all God's barf, after all. In this week's Y@ Speak we reflect on trying times and how many shots Craig Robinson will buy for us to get through them.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Judge rules against BP in settlement dispute

Posted By on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 12:20 PM

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier this morning reaffirmed his prior rulings that Pat Juneau, claims administrator for the Deepwater Horizon Economic Settlement, is correctly interpreting how the multi-billion settlement is paid out to business claimants who suffered losses related to the 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster. Barbier dismissed a lawsuit BP filed against Juneau and denying the company's motion for a preliminary injunction on certain types of claim payments.

Today's hearing took place before a courtroom filled to capacity. Court officials opened up an overflow room (where I was) which itself was about half-filled.

The disagreement involves only business economic loss (BEL) claimants. BEL claimants have so far received the largest damage amounts. BP initially anticipated that the entire settlement would cost about $7.8 billion, but its potential exposure on BELs alone — one claim category of 12 — could surpass that.

Yesterday, the company appealed Barbier's earlier ruling siding with Juneau's interpretation.

(More after the jump)

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