Summer 2007 Gulf Currents Newsletter

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Inside this issue: News & Changes from the GRN; Save Our Cypress Arbor Day of Action; EPA & States Fail to Enforce Clean Water Act; Member spotlight: Pearl River Basin Coalition; Victories—Black Creek and Magnolia Bay Updates; Aveda Earth Month



Volume 11, Issue 2 June 2007

In the face of ongoing popular opposition to Gulf Landing, and citing the changing LNG market in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell announced on March 28th, 2007 that they would finally suspend development of the Gulf Landing project. The announcement was immediately greeted with sighs of relief from many within the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, as well as conservation organizations around the Gulf.

Inside this issue:
News & Changes from the GRN Save Our Cypress Arbor Day of Action EPA & States Fail to Enforce Clean Water Act Victories—Black Creek and Magnolia Bay Updates Aveda Earth Month Member spotlight: Pearl River Basin Coalition Network News Welcoming New and Returning Member Groups 6


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Shell’s Gulf Landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal had raised concerns over potential impacts to Louisiana’s coastal fisheries due to the open-rack vaporizer, or open-loop system, Shell had planned to use. The terminal would have run 136 million gallons of Gulf seawater daily through a radiator-like heat exchange system. The physical damage from that process, as well as the injection of chlorine into the water for sterilization, means that all life in the water would be destroyed. Billions of fish eggs, larvae, and zooplankton would have been destroyed annually. A remarkable aspect of the successful LNG opposition is the unlikely coalition that developed around the issue. Alerted to the issue by the concern voiced by fisheries scientists, Mike Lane of, Charlie Smith of the Louisiana Charter Boat Association, Darryl Malek-Wiley with the Sierra Club, Aaron Viles with the Gulf Restoration Network and Clint Guidry and A.J. Fabre of the Louisiana Shrimp Association found themselves working shoulder to shoulder to convince the Governor and other politicians and decision-makers in the state to oppose the use of this highly questionable process. Calling themselves the Gumbo Alliance for Safe LNG, (named after the dish Charlie cooked and served at early group meetings, as well as the breadth of ingredients in the best Gumbo recipes) the groups organized a parade of fishing boats (on trailers) around Shell's Downtown New Orleans and Houston headquarters, filed a lawsuit against Shell, packed a committee hearing in the Baton Rouge capitol on the issue (winning a strongly worded resolution in the process), flew an airplane over the Shell-sponsored Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans towing the message “Shell – Thanks for the music, don’t kill our fish,” and just two months ago generated over 200 phone calls into the offices of the president of Shell U.S. on the issue. Mike Lane ( and Aaron Viles (Gulf Restoration Network) even went as far as the Hague, Netherlands to attend the Annual General Meeting of Shell Energy and directly challenged Shell’s President, CEO, and shareholders to modify or cancel plans for Gulf Landing. When Shell's representative informed the Gumbo Alliance in person of their plans to abandon the project, it was clear that mutual respect defined the relationship, despite the three years the two sides had spent disagreeing over Gulf Landing.

Spring has been an exciting time for the GRN. With our extremely successful year of 2006, we have launched into 2007 with more energy, resources, and momentum than ever. The results thus far have been significant. Besides campaign successes, there are organizational changes that we want to share with you. New Website!! As you may have seen, the GRN has redesigned our website. We have attempted to create a more flexible and dynamic website that will keep all our members and friends connected to our work and will provide more resources for our e-activists and community activists around the country. Please let us know what you think. Annual Report 2006 The GRN has published an Annual Report for funders and donors. For copies, please visit our website or contact [email protected]. Opening of Florida Office Beginning June 1st, the GRN will have a satellite field office near Tampa, FL. Our newly hired Florida Program Coordinator, Joe Murphy will be running the office and helping to expand the GRN’s work in Florida. If Joe’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you heard from him last issue as our Board Chair. When the GRN posted our new position, Joe realized that it was his dream job, and resigned from our Board in order to apply. We are happy to say, that he was our top choice and accepted the position. Welcome to the staff Joe! More Staff Changes We are sad to say goodbye to our Director of Administration, Alison Chase. She will be going on maternity leave in mid-June and then will be moving with her family to her home state of Maine. She will be missed and she regrets leaving such a fabulous job and organization. She promises to be a loud champion from Maine, so look for her if you’re in New England! The GRN welcomes a new Office Manager, Lynn Powers. Lynn has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the State University of New York, and her Masters in Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the past fifteen years Lynn has worked as the Executive Director of the Kids’ Film Festival of Virginia, the Special Events Coordinator of the Children’s Museum of Richmond, the Educational Programs Supervisor of the Science Museum of Virginia, and freelanced as a journalist and web designer. She is now responsible for the GRN’s payroll, accounting, office administration, and technical support. Staff Openings The GRN is hiring a Development Coordinator. For a full job description and to apply, go to Board Openings We currently have openings on our board. We are particularly seeking people with strong finance or accounting backgrounds, who wholeheartedly embrace the mission of the GRN and would like an opportunity to serve as a volunteer trustee. If you know of someone you would like to recommend to the nominating committee, please contact [email protected] and put “Board Nominee” in the subject line.

Keep up-to-date on conservation developments and our work in the Gulf at
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Over 50 people attended an evening benefit for the Gulf Restoration Network on May 17, 2007. GRN supporters dined on tasty treats provided by GRN board member and James Beard Award-winning chef, Susan Spicer. Keynote speaker Ivor Van Heerden, of the LSU Hurricane Center and Team Louisiana, also discussed key opportunities to gain the national support needed to bring meaningful wetland restoration and hurricane protection to coastal Louisiana. Thanks to party hosts and GRN members, Dr. Donald and Nancy Adams, for making this evening our most successful event with GRN Board member, Susan Spicer, preparing tasty food over $10,000 donated in support of our work! We would also like to extend a special thanks to our top donor of the evening, Toby Burroughs, for helping us surpass our fundraising goal. Special thanks also to our other Benefactors ($1000 and above) Kathryn Anderson, Ray & Beverly Nichols, and Dr. Donald & Nancy Adams. We hope to build on our great success by hosting similar events across the Gulf, please contact Briana Kerstein at [email protected] if you would like to host or help to organize an event in your area.

Party host Nancy Adams talks with GRN supporter Joe Friend

If you went to Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot on April 27th, National Arbor Day, you may have been confronted by a fake-chainsaw-wielding-corporate-evil-doer or students holding banners and distributing brochures about the dangers of cypress mulch. Perhaps, you were delivering a letter of your own to the store manager (thanks!). The Save Our Cypress Campaign Arbor Day of Action was a great success. From Austin to New Orleans to Tampa , citizens were out in force, and as the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported, "Persuading stores and consumers to stop using cypress and instead use mulch from yard waste or other, more easily renewable or invasive trees was a main theme for Arbor Day."

GRN Photo

Protests at a Lowe’s in New Orleans

The Save Our Cypress Coalition has presented Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot with extensive evidence of the destruction that is caused from cypress mulch. Unfortunately, they ignore it and continue to claim their suppliers only use sustainable sources. Of course, they have failed to substantiate this claim. Cypress mulch is an unsustainable and unnecessary product. As we spoke with customers outside the stores on Arbor Day, people were pleased to learn that there are plenty of sustainable mulch alternatives, like pine straw and melaleuca mulch. Now, we just need to convince the folks who sell it.

GRN Photo

Please take a moment on your next shopping trip to tell the store manager that you don’t want the company to sell cypress mulch, and visit to send a message directly to the CEO’s of Wal-Mart, A chainsaw-wielding-evil-doer Home Depot, and Lowe’s.
Volume 11, Issue 2

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A fundamental principle of the Clean Water Act is that every polluter must obtain a permit to discharge, and those that violate their permits shall be fined or prosecuted. Over the past year, the GRN has been investigating how the Clean Water Act is being enforced in some of the Gulf States – and our findings have been quite troubling. In Mississippi and Louisiana, we have discovered cases in which polluters are discharging substances in violation of their permits, often openly, with little or no recourse from state agencies. On a recent trip in Mississippi, we investigated two sewage treatment plants, both of which were polluting the streams into which they discharge. At one site, near Jackson, MS, we found a large buildup of black sewage sludge in the stream below the discharge and absolutely no sign of aquatic life. In the very same neighborhood, we also found private residences that were discharging sewage directly from their homes into a ditch in the front yard. Sewage discharges into streams are disgusting not only because of the visible sludge and smell, but also because these discharges can wipe out aquatic life,

Improperly treated sewage from homes empties into a creek running through peoples’ backyards.

cause harmful algal blooms, and cause illness for those unlucky enough to come into contact with bacteria and viruses in the water. Unfortunately, it isn’t just sewage that is a problem. There are also industrial facilities that are illegally discharging chemicals into streams that have never been fined or prosecuted. Though there is little national data available on enforcement of the Clean Water Act, the few studies that exist suggest that it is a major problem:

A 1996 study by the U.S. General Accounting Office found that one in six large facilities are in violation of the Clean Water Act, and the EPA conceded that the actual number could be twice that. A 2001 EPA Inspector General report found that states often take a year or more to respond to significant violations at large facilities and that many states have failed to report significant violations to the EPA. The EPA report also found that when states did levy fines, they rarely recovered an amount sufficient to offset the economic benefit gained by the polluters.

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Until states receive pressure from the public to enforce water laws better, little is likely to change. At the Gulf Restoration Network, we have begun to file citizen suits against repeat polluters. We have also been reporting violations to state agencies whenever we find any illicit discharges in order to pressure them to take action. If you have witnessed any pollution discharge that you think may be violating the Clean Water Act, contact us at the Gulf Restoration Network and also report it to your state agency and the EPA. Let’s make sure that states do their job and keep the pollution out of our rivers, lakes, wetlands, and bayous. To report a Clean Water Act Violation to the EPA, go to: To let the GRN know, email [email protected].
JUNE 2007

Improperly treated wastewater from a sewage lagoon is discharged into a small stream. The lagoon is being used to treat sewage for far more homes than it was originally designed. Pa ge 4

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In 1972, the Clean Water Act set the ambitious goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters. While much progress has been achieved toward that goal, a majority of Americans still live within 10 miles of a polluted river, lake, stream, or coastal area. Among the many reasons why waters remain polluted is the consistently poor performance of individual states and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in enforcing the Clean Water Act.

© USDA photo

In January, Black Creek Development, LLC applied for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to dam three tributaries of Black Creek. With forested banks, deep black waters, and beautiful white sand bars, Black Creek is Mississippi’s only National Scenic River and is one of only a handful in the Gulf Region.

Dams drown valuable habitat and often alter the flow, temperature, and water quality downstream. At a time when other parts of the country are Black Creek National Scenic River spending millions to “pull the plug” and reverse the detrimental impacts of dams, proposed dam projects for residential development are popping up throughout the Gulf South. These proposed dams often have no other purpose than to create lake front property—damaging a beautiful and valuable public resource for the private gain of one developer. Through our e-action alert system, GRN members and friends sent 1,721 comments to the Corps urging them to deny the permit. The local paper, The Hattiesburg American, ran several stories questioning the merits of the project. As a result of the significant public concern that we were able to raise through our outreach and media efforts, the Corps has asked the developer to go back to the drawing board and submit a new plan minimizing impacts to the streams and to nearby wetlands. The GRN will be closely following the new plan to make sure no dams are included and that impacts are truly minimized. For more information contact Stephanie Powell at [email protected].

The Nature Coast is the last, great undeveloped stretch of coast in Florida, and its natural resources are important to the entire region. From seagrass beds that act as nurseries for grouper to amazing wetlands that promote water quality, the area deserves the utmost respect and protection. In a rare occurrence, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), a state permitting agency, agree with us. The Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the proposed Magnolia Bay Resort and Marina because of the substantial negative impacts it would have on the environment, and the staff of the SRWMD has recommended “denial with prejudice” to their board.
© Southwings

Boggy Bay, site of proposed Magnolia Bay Resort

Plans for Magnolia Bay include destroying over 100 acres of high-quality wetlands and dredging a two-mile channel right through the middle of the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve. The huge development would put unreasonable strain on the local water supply and have a negative effect on water quality. The rare rebukes from the permitting agencies demonstrate the importance of the Nature Coast and the incredible damage this project would incur. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the developer won’t keep pushing, so the GRN will remain involved in the issue. For now, though, it’s time to applaud the decisions and celebrate a huge victory for the Nature Coast and the Gulf. For more information, contact Joe Murphy at [email protected].

Aveda distributors, the Neill Corporation and The Salon People, have completed their Earth Month events. Again, their fundraising efforts were a huge success. Stay tuned, in the next issue, we’ll be able to give more specifics on the participating salons and stores so you can thank them yourselves.
Volume 11, Issue 2 Page 5

Pearl River Basin Coalition
The Pearl River Basin Coalition, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is a group of concerned citizens interested in maintaining and improving the ecological health and integrity of the Pearl River Basin. The organization’s mission is to actively identify, evaluate, and support specific actions that promote the conservation, restoration and responsible use and enjoyment of the natural and cultural resources of the Pearl River and its watershed in Mississippi and Louisiana. The Pearl River Basin Coalition (PRBC) was formed in January 2004 over concerns about the negative impacts of the proposed LeFleur Lakes Project in the heart of the Jackson Metropolitan area. Touted as flood control, the development project would dam the Pearl River in two places, dredge 11 miles of river, and create a 600 acre private island in the middle of the new lake. The development would destroy 5,492 acres of wetlands and 3,479 acres of bottomland hardwood habitat. The impacted reach of the river is habitat for two federally listed Threatened or Endangered species, the Gulf Sturgeon and the Ringed Sawback Turtle. PRBC members have been meeting with Mississippi media, local decision makers, and downstream communities to discuss how the project could impact water quality and water supply. The group recently participated in a strategic planning session facilitated by both the Gulf Restoration Network and the River Network. Through that session, PRBC has developed a campaign plan to effectively guide their efforts to stop the dam project. While currently focused on defeating the proposed dam project, PRBC also wants to work to ensure that all future flood control and economic development projects are protective of the environment of the Pearl River Basin and its values. Through its work fighting the LeFleur dam project the PRBC has recognized the crucial need to promote enforcement of existing water quality and wetland regulations throughout the entire Pearl River Basin and the state of Mississippi. Though most of its members are located in Jackson, the PRBC aims to expand its membership and create a truly basin wide organization. Pearl River Basin Coalition Contact: Cathy Shropshire 855 S. Pear Orchard Rd, Suite 500 Ridgeland, MS 39157 601.206.5703

Founded in 1994, the Gulf Restoration Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the resources of the Gulf Region for future generations. Board of Directors
Mark Davis—Secretary/Treasurer Tulane Institute for Water Policy and Law New Orleans, LA Robert Hastings Montgomery, AL Juan Parras Citizens’ League for Environmental Action Now Houston, TX Bob Schaeffer Public Policy Communications Sanibel, FL Louis Skrmetta Ship Island Excursions Gulfport, MS Susan Spicer Bayona Restaurant New Orleans, LA Page Williams Sierra Club—Lone Star Chapter Houston, TX Robert Wiygul— Acting Chair Waltzer and Associates Ocean Springs, MS

Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director Aaron Viles, Campaign Director Dan Favre, Campaign Organizer Matt Rota, Water Resources Program Director Jeff Grimes, Assistant Director, Water Resources Program Stephanie Powell, Outreach Associate, Water Resources Program Briana Kerstein, Director of Organizational Development Alison Chase, Director of Administration Lynn Powers, Office Manager Joe Murphy, Florida Program Coordinator Marianne Cufone, Fisheries Consultant Cynthia Ramseur, Mississippi Field Consultant

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JUNE 2007

Spring was Group Member renewal time and we’d like to thank the following organizations for renewing their membership:
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Portersville Revival Group Reef Guardian International


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Alabama Rivers Alliance Bayou Preservation Association Citizens Against Widening the Industrial Canal Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club Environmental Coalition of Mississippi Florida Wildlife Federation Galveston Bay Conservation & Preservation Association Informed Choices League of Women Voters of St. Tammany Louisiana Bayoukeeper

We’d also like to welcome several new member groups:

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Advocates for Environmental Human rights American Rivers Baton Rouge Audubon Environment Florida Environment Texas Environmental Alliance of North Florida National Environmental Trust National Wildlife Federation—Gulf States Natural Resource Center Natural Resources Defense Council Oceana Pearl River Basin Coalition Turkey Creek Community Initiative

We know there are many organizations who are still planning to renew or join the GRN and we encourage you to get your application and dues in to us as soon as possible. We cannot list your organization as a member group until we receive your dues. Wondering what Group Membership is all about? Didn’t receive a letter and application? You can view more information and download the application on our website at or email Briana at [email protected]

If you are a member group we invite you to share your news or events with us. Whether it’s a short update on a current campaign or a full page article, we’d like to hear what you’re up to. Please send submissions to [email protected].
Volume 11, Issue 2 Page 7

United for a Healthy Gulf

P.O. Box 2245 New Orleans, LA 70176 Phone: (504) 525-1528 Fax: (504) 525-0833

The GRN would like to thank the following for making this newsletter, and the work of the GRN, possible: The Arntz Family Foundation, Aveda, The Booth-Bricker Foundation, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Currents of Change, The Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Patagonia, the Regional Marine Conservation Project, the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and The RosaMary Foundation.

As we head into hurricane season, we on the Gulf Coast know the importance of safeguarding our natural defenses. The Gulf Restoration Network is working hard to ensure that the state and federal coastal restoration and protection plans adequately address the need for protection and restoration of natural storm barriers such as coastal wetlands and barrier islands. Your support helps us in this vital effort. Please be as generous as you can to help us safeguard all the natural resources that protect and enrich our coastal communities. Thank you in advance.

Mail to: GRN, P.O. Box 2245, New Orleans, LA 70176 __$50 __$75 __$150 __$30(min memb.) ______Other THANK YOU! Please make your checks payable to GRN

Name: __________________________________ Address: ________________________________ City: ___________ State: ______ Zip: _____ E-mail:__________________________________

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