Save Our Gulf

My name is Renee Blanchard and I am the new Save Our Gulf coordinator. I am originally from Lafayette, LA, but moved at a young age to south Florida and when I was old enough I started traveling the globe working on social and environmental justice issues. Over the past ten years, these travels took me to places like the refugee camps of northern Thailand, Washington DC, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Returning to the gulf in the wake of an unprecedented oil disaster was never the plan or even the plan just three months ago, but it's where I found myself January 23. Boarding a plane from Oakland, CA to New Orleans, preparing to jump into something I don't think I have yet to wrap my head around.

As I travel on this journey alongside the Waterkeeper Alliance and the seven Waterkeepers who make up Save Our Gulf, I will be sharing our work with you right here. Each week I will be posting a column where I give you the highlights of what the Save our Gulf Waterkeepers are doing to restore and protect our gulf.  Here are just a few things our hardworking and dedicated Waterkeepers are up to as well as useful information on the Eco-system Task Force.

Louisiana Bayoukeeper – Louisiana Bayoukeeper is located in Lafitte, LA, a community central to the restoration of our gulf coast families. Tracy and Mike who are our Bayoukeepers have been part of the fishing community in lower Louisiana and are working hard to make sure that community recovery from the BP oil disaster includes long and short term health care. Please take a moment to sign an important online petition to stand in solidarity with Louisiana Bayoukeeper and all the families still suffering from the health impacts of this great social and environmental disaster.

Mobile Baykeeper – Today Mobile Baykeeper will be conducting a Muddy Waters Watch Workshop at the Mobile Baykeeper office. MWW volunteers will learn how to identify a site that needs monitoring, how to conduct a site visit, how to document and report mud and clay leaving construction sites and polluting waterways, what constitutes a violation and agencies responsible for enforcement. And on On March 26, 2011, Mobile Baykeeper will host its second annual HopsFest beer tasting, featuring premium craft beers from Budweiser-Busch and Gulf Distributing Companies.  This fundraising event takes place from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Cathedral Square in downtown Mobile.

Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper – In August and this past December LMRK teamed up with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and Dr. Wilma Subra to sample soil in the Mississippi River Delta near the mouth of the Southeast Pass. The results were released last Monday and show that this area is contaminated with crude oil from Deepwater Horizon. You can read the specific results here.

Truth Out for the Gulf - Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), the home of Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper in Baton Rouge, LA, along with Dr. Wilma Subra hosted a forum in New Orleans on February 5 at the First Unitarian Univerisalist Church of New Orleans. Dr. Subra released results from testing for specific compounds in four impacted citizens. The event was extremely emotional as citizens from all over the gulf coast came to ask questions about their illnesses and their problems getting doctors to appropriately diagnose them. All needing help on how to move forward for this tragedy. For me this event was a real eye opener of what the communities here have been experiencing everyday since the oil first starting gushing. You can watch her entire presentation here. If you don't have time to watch the entire presentation, take a look at some of the photos taken by Jefferey Dubinsky on the LEAN website.   

Ecosystem Task Force Meetings – President Obama created the Ecosystem Task Force “to build on the ongoing spill response and natural resource damage assessment effort, as well as achieve overall recovery for the gulf, and is comprised of federal and state leaders and informed by stakeholders in the region.” The task force will be meeting in New Orleans on February 28, 2011. Many gulf coast community and regional groups, including Waterkeeper Alliance and the seven Waterkeepers located on the gulf coast, will be participating to make sure that their voices are heard in restoring the damage done to our communities. If you are interested in knowing what will be discussed next Monday, you can take a look at the agenda here.

Please use Save Our Gulf as a resource to better understand the true impacts of the BP oil disaster. Bookmark our blog and check back often to hear our stories.

Happy Mardi Gras.

Renee Blanchard

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