"Mobile Baykeeper focused on protecting nature's bounty." Letter To The Editor. Mobile Press-Register, June 27

As the Deepwater Horizon well continues to gush into the Gulf, we at Mobile Baykeeper are faced with the daunting reality that oil is relentlessly making its way toward our sea grasses, wetlands and shorelines. In order to most effectively handle this situation, we have identified critical concerns and devised a set of goals which we feel are most important for immediate spill response.

Protection of our shoreline is vital. We must ensure that our shoreline is ready for the oil as it arrives. In order to accomplish this, we must determine where boom is located, and whether it is protecting the most sensitive areas of our shoreline. Moreover, it must be determined whether boom is the most efficient protective measure available for the weathered, dispersed oil. 

In addition to protecting our shoreline, maintaining the health and safety of our population – both human and animal – is imperative. An utmost concern of ours is the dispersant, known as Corexit, which BP is dumping into the Gulf in unprecedented amounts. Not only does Corexit greatly jeopardize marine life (especially in shallow water ecosystems), but also, inhalation of its fumes poses a severe threat to human health as well. We must urge BP and the EPA to end to the use of Corexit and invest in more booms, skimmers, tankers and collection methods. 

Furthermore, air and water testing must be conducted at every level to identify any chemical that could potentially endanger our population. Principal agencies involved in the cleanup, including BP and the federal government, must be monitored to ensure proper leadership and performance.  BP’s ability to retain their lease on this and other oil deposits must be directly tied to their effectiveness as leaders of the cleanup. BP must not be allowed to continue to deny transparency and limit the community’s access to information. We must demand that all governmental oversight agencies do their jobs: ensure the protection of our public health, fisheries, and natural resources to ensure a healthy economy as well as a healthy environment.  

To aid in our endeavor, we have enlisted the support of volunteer field observers to conduct natural resource damage assessment. Field observer training is underway, instructing volunteers how to properly monitor designated areas of shoreline. Volunteer field observers will not only provide valuable information prior to impact; they also will be the first line of defense in finding oil as it comes on shore.

As Bill Finch and Judy Haner of The Nature Conservancy so eloquently said in their June 20 “Insight” essay, “We can save the Mobile-Tensaw Delta for wildlife,” we have great reason to hope. Mobile Baykeeper is committed to partnering with our area’s top scientists, agencies and fellow environmental organizations to create a better, stronger and more resilient Mobile Bay watershed. Our long-term focus and the goal that will enable us to keep facing this adversity will be the 100 miles of reef and at least 1,000 acres of marsh for coastal Alabama. 

The days and months ahead are unknown, and the road to recovery expectedly long. Mobile Baykeeper is committed to working on this tragedy long-term. As time passes, our concerns will evolve to focus on restoring our shorelines to their pristine condition, but, for now, we are dedicated to doing all that is in our power to protect them.

June 27, 2010

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