Leadership for the Gulf Coast

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Empowering People & Communities
Land loss, jobs from restoration projects, health impacts, sustainable fisheries and the NRDA process remain critical concerns throughout the Gulf Coast region. These topics and more we delve into during an interview with Sen. Bob Graham (Ret.), Co-Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Restoration of the Gulf Coast post Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
On 2 December 2010, Retired Adm. Thad Allen provided perspective for the complex disaster-response challenges ahead. The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute hosted him in New Orleans for a discussion titled: “Managing The Unknown.” It was a thoroughly impressive analysis of his experience which has spanned 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, BP Gulf Oil Spill and the Haiti Earthquake.

Adm. Allen discussed several of his thoughts for restructuring the way in which government and the public plan, respond and sustain disaster recovery.

During the summer of 2010 we had an opportunity to volunteer with the Gulf Response Involvement Team (GRIT) in an effort to protect sections of our barriers islands in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Several NGOs, including the Barataria-Terrebone National Estuary Program, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Audubon Institute, National Wildlife Federation, and the Nature Conservatory coalesced to clean-up the dunes in anticipation of oil landfall in Lafourche Parish.

About #50 volunteers from all across the state were briefed on the impact of this national disaster. Primarily, we raked organic and non-organic debris from the shoreline, moving it far beyond the high tide line. Natural debris was removed, bagged and disposed of in an environmentally secure manner. These preventative measures were completed in order to mitigate the potentially hazardous impact of oil reaching this coastline.

This is a clarion call for us to re-examine the ways we consume and waste our natural resources. Louisiana is a traditional energy intensive state – both in terms of consumption and production. It is my hope that this will focus our attention on ways we can become a more intensive energy-efficient state; meaning that we utilize and invest in technologies that reduce our consumption of harmful gas and increase our usage of clean energy.

There are a number of ways you can make a difference in the fishing communities devastated by this disaster and help protect our coastline and estuaries. Please take a moment to help. For example, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana leads community-based restoration projects; click here to register for upcoming volunteer opportunities.

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