Two Years After the Spill: Much Accomplished, Much to Do

April 19th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

NASA's Terra Satellites Sees Spill on May 24, 2010

April 20, 2010, began as an ordinary day for residents of the Gulf Coast. Fishermen woke up early to head out for the daily catch, and news outlets reported on the perils of the U.S. economy. Outside, the skies were overcast with temperatures in the high 60s, standard conditions before summer’s suffocating humidity settled in. But by the end of the day that began as so ordinary, the lives of Gulf residents would be changed forever.

An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that day killed 11 workers and injured dozens more, and the spill caused approximately 5 million gallons of crude oil to gush into precious underwater ecosystems and vital fishing areas by the time the leak was stopped in July. The more we learned about the disaster, the more we mourned for the human, environmental, economic, and cultural devastation the region would experience. But as people of faith, called to care both for God’s creation and for our brethren in need, we were inspired to respond immediately to the disaster.

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Healthcare Crisis in the Gulf?

August 1st, 2011 | Uncategorized |

Last week, Gulf advocates and activists gathered for a Capitol Hill briefing on the on-going health impacts of the BP oil spill, dispersant and clean-up process for the Gulf Coast. The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights organized the briefing, and their President Kerry Kennedy presented the findings of a delegation that recently traveled the Gulf Coast meeting residents with health complaints in the wake of the spill. After their time spent attempting to understand the “scope of the emerging healthcare crisis in the wake of the BP drilling disaster,” Kerry and her team found that residents are sick and “don’t know what the exact cause of their illness is, but because they never suffered this way before the spill and they were all out on their fishing boats throughout the clean-up, they suspect this has something to do with the toxins.”

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade has done extensive surveys with impacted community members, finding “Coughing, respiratory irritation, and eye irritation were the most common” symptoms of potentially oil-related illness, and that a full 75% of those who thought they had encountered oil or dispersant reported health impacts. (more…)

Time to RESTORE the Gulf

July 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(originally posted on the RACblog)
by Rachel Cohen

I’ve heard the axiom around Washington that when disaster strikes, Congress responds. But in the case of the BP Gulf oil spill, the worst environmental disaster of our time, this axiom has failed – until now. Still, advocates and activists have not given up, and momentum is building behind legislation crucial for the Gulf and our national energy and environmental future. This week is the time to speak out and urge Congress to invest in restoring the Gulf, empower citizens and community leaders to work effectively with oil and gas companies to protect their communities, and enhance health and safety across the offshore drilling industry.

Today you can join advocates from across the Gulf and people of diverse faiths from across the country by making a call for the future of the Gulf. This nationwide call-in day urges the Senate to pass the RESTORE Act, a bill supported by nine Gulf Coast Senators and designed to ensure that the Clean Water Act penalties collected from BP as a result of the spill are invested in Gulf restoration. This legislation would provide a desperately needed infusion of funds for restoring the ecosystems and economy hit hardest by the spill, many of which feed and fuel our nation. Nearly 500 miles of Gulf coastline in four states remains oiled, and the need for restoration is immediate. (more…)

People of Faith Agree: Gulf States Deserve BP Fines

July 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

It’s a critical time for the future of the Gulf with conversations taking place all over Capitol Hill on efforts to protect and restore coastal ecosystems and communities and enhance offshore drilling safety. That’s why, next Monday, July 25, Gulf groups and people of diverse faith nationwide will join together in calling on the Senate to pass the RESTORE Act (S. 861) and create a  Regional Citizens Advisory Council for the Gulf. You can help – make the call on July 25.

The RESTORE Act is needed now to ensure that Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the spill are invested in restoring Gulf ecosystems and communities. A recent op-ed from evangelical Christian leaders explains why this is an issue of justice for the Gulf. As the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (an After the Spill campaign partner), and Dr. Randy Brinson, president of the Alabama Christian Coalition, explain, “We need to support Gulf Coast residents and clean up the economic and environmental disaster. There can be no room for theoretical debates as whole communities are at stake.”

They go on to say, “We must ensure — now and in the future — that legal fines resulting from any ecological disaster provide for those impacted, and are not simply held in trust or deposited into the treasury.” We could not agree more – read the  op-ed today and get ready to take action as part of next week’s call-in blitz for the Gulf!

Movie Night for the Gulf

July 13th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Looking for a fun way to engage your community in Gulf Coast restoration but don’t have the time and money to travel to the Gulf? Our friends at Gulf Restoration Network have an idea for you – host a movie night for the Gulf! “Defend the Gulf” screenings are a fun and easy way to help protect and restore the Gulf, and remind the public that the impacts of the oil and chemical dispersant continue to be felt by Gulf communities and ecosystems.

Your synagogue, church or mosque could be a great site for a screening and you can even feature a speaker or letter-writing campaign following the film. Events should be held from August 8 – September 5, while Congress is home for the summer recess and Members have an eye on what is going on in the local community. Show your Senators and Representatives that Gulf restoration is a priority for people of faith across the country!

When you sign up to host a screening, you’ll receive a host packet with a DVD, fact sheets and post cards and a petition to Congress. You’ll also get raffle tickets and prizes! This summer is a critical window for passing legislation to protect and restore the Gulf, and people across the country must stand up and raise their voices to move these efforts forward. Visit Gulf Restoration Network’s site to  sign up as a screening host, and receive the support you need to make your event a success.

GRN Draws A Line In The Sand

July 6th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

Jonathan Henderson, Coastal Resiliency Organizer, Gulf Restoration Network
(originally  posted on Blogging for a Healthy Gulf – additional photos on original post)

The stand against coastal and offshore drilling continued on Saturday, June 25th along beaches and at community events worldwide.  Thousands of cities around the world participated in last Saturday’s “Hands Across the Sand” program, including many along the Gulf coast. Participants included local residents, tourists, elected officials and business owners, many hurt by the devastation of the Gulf Oil Disaster in 2010. Volunteers worked to sign people in, talk about drilling and clean energy issues, and gather petition signatures.

In Florida, along Tampa Bay area beaches, over 1300 supporters lined up to join hands to say NO to DRILLING, and call for CLEAN ENERGY NOW. The Treasure Island group, led by Surfrider Foundation, partnered with “Surfers for Autism” to create a line over 500 strong.  On St. Pete Beach, the Tradewinds event garnered 400 supporters.  Debra Davies from the Tradewinds Island Resort organized the beach, joined by a coalition of volunteers including Gulf Restoration Network, local Sierra Club chapters, Defenders of Wildlife and Save Our Seas, Beaches and Shores. (more…)

What’s the difference between the Gulf of Mexico CAC and the RCAC?

June 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Michelle Erenberg
(originally posted on the Gulf Restoration Network blog)

Last week, I wrote a blog about the importance of engaging communities in the decision making process as we move forward with restoration plans and projects. Recognizing this, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force is creating a Gulf of Mexico Citizens Advisory Committee (GMCAC). This GMCAC will provide independent citizen advice to the EPA Administrator on a broad range of environmental issues affecting the five Gulf of Mexico Coastal States. It is important to point out the difference between this entity and the Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens Advisory Council (GMRCAC) for which we  have been advocating. Explaining each of these advisory bodies below, I hope to shed some light on how they differ and why each in its own right is vital to protecting and restoring the Gulf of Mexico and our coastal communities.

The Gulf of Mexico Citizen Advisory Committee is created by The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and will be a 25-member Committee. Its authority is limited to offering advice to officers and agencies in the executive branch of the Federal Government, in this case, specifically advising the EPA as they lead the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and oversee the implementation plan that the task force is currently developing. Funding for such a committee may come directly from Congress or provided with monies indirectly through general agency appropriations.Additionally, FACA committees operate “in the sunshine” which means that their meetings, deliberations and reports are open and available to the public. (more…)

Big Win for the Louisiana Environmental Action Network

June 15th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

Congratulations to our friends at the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) on their recent court victory, a big win for environmental and human health on the Gulf Coast! A Louisiana state appellate court ruled last week that regulators must consider the environmental and health impacts that could possibly result “from dumping fluids used in drilling for oil and natural gas into the seas just off the coast.”

This practice of dumping untreated waste water from offshore drilling operations – called produced waters – was previously permitted without prior study of its consequences. The court ruled that waste water permits issued in 2009 did not require sufficient testing or monitoring of the potential dangers of these waste waters. Though one lawyer involved in the case argues that such a review “should have been done 30, 40 years ago,” it’s a case of better late than never for the human and ecological health of communities located near these waste sites.

The case has been pending since LEAN filed suit against the state environmental department in 2009, with evidence of potential health consequences accumulating in water supplies and food chains. This practice of dumping waste into local water supplies has gone on for too long without adequate study and regulation, but hopefully this court ruling is a major step in regulating this potentially dangerous practice.

Day of Prayer for the Gulf: Shabbat Noah

October 6th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

Shabbat Noah: October 8-9
This year on Shabbat Noah, when Jewish communities worldwide read the Torah portion about the Flood, the Ark, the Rainbow and the Covenant, synagogues will celebrate an environmental Shabbat in response to the Gulf oil spill crisis and our ongoing climate and energy challenges. The Religious Action Center and partners throughout the community have created resources to help congregations commemorate Shabbat Noah.

Remembering Katrina: A Reflection

August 26th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Leslie G. Woods serves as the Representative for Domestic Poverty & Environmental Issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. Find resources to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in your community here. (more…)

Evangelical Relief Efforts Underway

August 31st, 2010 | Uncategorized |

1,500 Pounds of School Supplies Delivered
The Christian Coalition of Alabama, the Evangelical Environmental Network, and the Mennonite Central Committee Relief and Development (MCCRD) partnered together to help local school children by delivering over 1,500 pounds of school supplies to school children in Alabama in August. With the start of the school year upon us many districts lack adequate supplies given the Gulf Oil Spill and recent economic hardships. The groups secured trucks and were able to get the supplies in time for the start of school. Romar Baptist Church helped to deliver the supplies. We were blessed to have the opportunity to provide for families in need in Alabama.

Raised Gardens for Coastal Communities
Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has been given the opportunity to work with communities across the Gulf Region to bring raised garden beds to those communities. (more…)

Thinking About Disaster Relief Before the Disaster Hits

September 20th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
The current Nonprofit Quarterly has an interesting article about innovative thinking happening at Southern Mutual Help Association, an organization based in rural Louisaiana directly hit by Katrina, about planning for disaster relief before the disaster happens.  Five years after Katrina, the Gulf Coast region continues to rebuild, and it continues to rely on financing and support raised in the aftermath of the storm to carry out those rebuilding efforts. (more…)

What’s Next for the Gulf?

September 29th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

By Rachel Cohen

This piece originally appeared on the Religious Action Center blog

Yesterday – five months and five million barrels of oil after the BP spill disaster began to devastate the eco- and economic systems of the Gulf Coast – the Obama Administration launched the next phase of their response, releasing “America’s Gulf Coast: A Long Term Recovery Plan After The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.” It’s a comprehensive and ambitious restoration plan, but as national attention shifts away from the Gulf following the permanent killing of the BP well, it will take immense pressure from activists and advocates to ensure that this vision of a sustainable future for the Gulf is realized.
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In a ‘National Day for the Gulf,’ faith communities seek healing

October 4th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

National Day for the Gulf Centered around Prayer for Long-term Healing and delivery of faith petition calling for Congressional response to oil spill

Churches from California to Florida participated yesterday in a day of prayer, reflection and healing for the Gulf Coast while people of faith joined together in a petition calling upon Congress to address the Gulf oil spill.

The day of prayer, “Seeking God’s Grace for the Gulf,” organized by the National Council of Churches, was a response to the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf earlier this year. The day was dedicated to recognizing the challenges that are plaguing the Gulf Coast and spend time, in prayer, focusing on long-term healing and also to recognizing the need for Congress to respond to this crisis.

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VIDEO: Faith Leaders Visit the Gulf

October 7th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

As the devastating impacts of the BP Oil Disaster continue to unfold, a group of national religious leaders from different faiths joined together in July to bear witness to the damage caused by the BP oil disaster in the Gulf Coast, and to testify about what they have seen. Convened by the Sierra Club, leaders of different faiths joined together to reflect, restore, and renew.

[Video after the jump] (more…)

Five Ways to Get Involved in Gulf Coast Restoration

October 11th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

As the six-month anniversary of the BP oil spill disaster approaches, the need for resources to meet the human needs across the Gulf Coast is as great as ever, even as media and public attention wanes. Now is the time for our communities to engage in partnership with local faith and non-profit organizations in long-term, sustainable Gulf Coast restoration.

We’ve compiled a list of ways you and your community can get involved with Gulf Coast restoration and rebuilding. Check out the PDF below – print it out, email it around, and distribute it widely! (more…)

The Religious Mandate To Not Abandon The Gulf

October 18th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Yesterday, as part of the launch of After the Spill, Rachel Cohen of the Religious Action Center published an op-ed in the Huffington Post on the religious community’s commitment to long-term oil spill response and Gulf Coast restoration. As we approach the six-month anniversary of the start of the spill, with public and media attention moving on to the Election and the next big crisis, faith communities around the country remain dedicated to sustainable restoration and renewal of the Gulf. We know that the transgressions of  justice brought on by this oil gusher will be with the residents of the Gulf for months and years to come, so we commit to stand with the residents of the Gulf as well.

As the piece explains, we as people of faith “remain focused on pursuing environmental and economic justice, and we refuse to let the Gulf disappear from public attention.” (more…)

Gulf Coast Justice

October 19th, 2010 | Uncategorized |
Network: A Catholic Social Justice LobbyCasey Schoeneberger, Lobby Associate, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. This piece originally appeared on the NETWORK blog.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast five years ago this past August and September. These cataclysmic disasters provided an opportunity to rebuild an area safer and better than what the storm and man-made errors had destroyed, but unfortunately that opportunity was missed. Sadly, five years later, the government and the American people have yet another opportunity to rebuild the Gulf Coast following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP and our country have yet to respond adequately to this spill, but a window of opportunity remains available to demand accountability.

Last week, Marge, Laura and I had the chance to sit down and discuss the oil spill with Salvador Samiento from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and Stephen Bradberry, the 2005 RFK Center Human Rights Advocacy Award winner.  Mr. Bradberry is the Executive Director at the Alliance Institute in New Orleans, which works to empower individuals and organizations to gain a seat at the table when it comes to determining how their communities are shaped following disasters. (more…)

After the Spill, We Can’t Forget the Gulf

October 20th, 2010 | Uncategorized |
Jim Wallis is President and CEO of Sojourners. This piece originally appeared on God’s Politics.

It is hard to imagine that it’s been six months since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Like many tragedies that we see on TV, it seemed to be what everyone was thinking about and talking about for a short while, and now it is mostly forgotten. For a moment, we were all fixated on the lives lost, livelihoods destroyed, and dark crude oil spreading out over the ocean. After a trip with an inter-faith group of religious leaders to survey the damage of the spill, I said that our country was ready for an “epiphany.” This could be a moment, I thought, of spiritual and moral clarity that our lifestyles as consumers and our addiction to oil were not sustainable.

Unfortunately, the disaster came during a campaign year, and Beltway pollsters decided that environmental issues weren’t worth talking about. The House of Representatives passed a bill to help mitigate and deal with many oil spill issues, but the Senate abdicated their leadership and has not done the same. (more…)

Commemorating Six Months of Oil on the Gulf Coast

October 20th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

Today marks six months since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and began pouring millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since the disaster began, the 18 partner groups in the After the Spill Campaign have come together to provide direct service and resources for relief efforts, to stand in solidarity with Gulf Coast residents, and to advocate for a just and effective federal response to the disaster. Throughout the month of October, there were numerous days of prayer, solidarity, and action in Jewish and Christian communities, and just last week, we reiterated our commitment to the long-term and sustainable restoration of the Gulf Coast in this Huffington Post op-ed.

In the days to come, we join communities and organizations across the Gulf Coast as they host events to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the spill, stand with those continuing to confront its impacts, and celebrate the strength and resiliency of Gulf Coast communities. Here are just a few examples: (more…)

Deepwater Horizon: It Still Hurts

October 22nd, 2010 | Uncategorized |
Rev. Mitch Hescox is the President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

In our fast-paced and self-indulgent society, it’s easy to be grabbed by a news headline, think how terrible it is, and then return to our thoughts, internal worries, or circumstances. From the end of April to mid July, as we watched crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, the America public responded with fear and indignation. If we are honest, most of our fear stemmed from concerns over increased gas prices and the worry from changing vacation plans to the price of Gulf Coast seafood. Shortly after July 16, 2010, Fox and CNN moved on and so did our fears and concern. However, the fear and worries are very much real and present for many Gulf Coast residents. Just as Hurricane Katrina’s impacts, after five years, remain, so the Deepwater Horizon Spill’s residue lingers as another terrible blow on the Gulf’s inhabitants. (more…)

The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment

October 31st, 2010 | Uncategorized |

Sharon Leshner is a BBYO/Panim teen member from Marlton, NJ. This entry is the first in a series of reflections on the Big E.A.S.Y. (Environmental Advocacy Starts with You) Teen Summit in New Orleans. Check back for updates from participants.

In nine days I will be gearing up, hopping on a plane and on my way to New Orleans for The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment.  I will be joining more than 80 teens from across North America to learn about the environment, participate in local service, and meet with people directly affected by Hurricane Katrina and the recent oil spill. (more…)

What’s the Administration Up To?

November 5th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

Recent Washington news has been  dominated by the election, but the Obama Administration has been working  (relatively quietly) to move ahead with their long-term Gulf oil spill response agenda. The National Oil Spill Commission recently released a number of early reports on various aspects of the spill and the government response, including  dispersant use and the ups and downs of the Unified Command response. The Commission holds its fifth meeting next week in Washington, D.C., focused on the causes of the well explosion.

In other Administrative news, the Gulf Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, established last month by Executive Order, will also meet next week. The Task Force holds its inaugural meeting in Pensacola, FL, where EPA Administrator/Task Force Leader Lisa Jackson will oversee a series of sessions, open to the public, on the goals of the Task Force. (more…)

Impact of Oil Disaster will be Long-Lasting

November 10th, 2010 | Uncategorized |
Paul Kaufman is the Program Coordinator and Director of Advocacy for GreenFaith and a member of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. He is a former Assistant Regional Director for the Union for Reform Judaism and lives in New Jersey.
This post originally appeared on the RACblog.

The approximately 60 members of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism who went to New Orleans last month wanted to see first-hand the impact of the BP oil disaster on the people, communities, and environment of southern Louisiana.  We spoke with scientists, activists, and “just plain folks,” all of whom spoke movingly about the devastation caused by this catastrophe. Rather than recount all that we did, here are a few of my conclusions after an intensive four-day visit to the area:

  • There is serious disagreement in the scientific community about the long-term effects of this spill.  Some scientists believe “nature will restore itself” quickly. Others stated that the effects could last for decades, citing the Exxon Valdez spill, whose effects are still being felt after 20 years.  The predominant message of the scientific community is simply that, “we don’t yet know,” because nothing on this scale has ever hit the Gulf.  The immediate impact on the fishing industry won’t be known until next year’s spawning season, and the effects of chemical dispersants used to break up the oil molecules remains a major unknown as well. (more…)

Tips for Dealing with the Gulf Oil Spill

November 18th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

Looking for help dealing with the Gulf Oil Spill as it affects the mental health of those living in the Gulf Coast region? The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has put together a series of tip sheets on issues surrounding the oil spill, like “Talking to Children and Youth About the Oil Spill Disaster,” “Tops for Coping With the Oil Disaster,” “Tips for Dealing With Your Grief Due to the Oil Spill Disaster” and more. (more…)

Gulf News Roundup

December 1st, 2010 | Uncategorized |

The last week has been a busy one for the Gulf Coast, despite the turkey and football that kept many of us distracted throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. Last Tuesday marked the end of the emergency claims period for the Feinberg-administered  Gulf Coast Claims Facility; while the final claims period remains open, any claimant that takes settlement during this period waives the right to sure BP or any other responsible parties.

Earlier today, the Obama Administration announced a critical change to earlier offshore drilling plans, “rescinding its decision to expand offshore oil exploration into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast because of weaknesses in federal regulation revealed by the BP oil spill.” Environmental groups heaped praise on the decision while industry decried the rescinded plan as a blow to domestic energy security. The rest of the Gulf Coast, as well as new areas of Alaska, remain open for drilling permit applications. (more…)

Teen Reflection on Service and Advocacy

December 6th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

By Jeremy Sherman, International President, Aleph Zadik Aleph (the young men’s division of BBYO) .  Sherman deferred his first year of college to spend the year assisting Jewish high school students in creating dynamic programming; modeling leadership; representing teens at major communal gatherings; and encouraging involvement in the broad spectrum of Jewish life and activities.  He will attend Washington University in St. Louis next year.

This entry is a reflection on The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment, offered by the PANIM Institute of BBYO. The PANIM Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values empowers Jewish teens to a lifetime of activism, leadership and service, creating a movement of young activists ready to take on the challenges facing society and the Jewish community. For more information, contact Carly Lundy at BBYO.

As the International Co-President of BBYO, Jewish values inform the work that I do all the time, but when I have the opportunity to be with a group of like-minded teens the effort is magnified manifold.  I recently had the opportunity to attend the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in New Orleans. Running parallel to the GA, the PANIM Institute of BBYO hosted The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment for teens across North America.  As a participant of both programs in the two and a half days in New Orleans I learned, I served and grew my leadership and returned home with an invigorated optimism for the Jewish future.

We joined all of the GA attendees for Volunteer NOLA, a community service program organized by the JFNA in the Lower 9th Ward. The Lower 9th Ward was the area hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and although it’s been nearly five years since the hurricane, the area is still in much need of attention and assistance.  I worked with my peers to prune, cut down and clean up an overgrown plot of land.  About halfway through the clean up process, my group uncovered a sidewalk underneath all the weeds.   It was at that moment that I realized that a family once lived on the lot I was helping clean.  While it was certainly sad to realize that a house had once stood where I was standing, it was a good feeling knowing I was hopefully clearing the way for future families and the future of the Lower 9th Ward. (more…)

Call-In Day: Don’t Let Congress Forget the Gulf!

December 6th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

Even after the worst oil spill in American history, the Senate has failed to pass legislation to clean up the mess, reform the oil and gas industry, and help the communities and ecosystems of the Gulf recover from this disaster. As the legislative year winds down, we have one final opportunity to call on Congress to ensure that the people of the Gulf Coast have a meaningful voice in the restoration process, the oil industry is held accountable, and that future disasters are prevented. Make a call today for a healthy Gulf.

Take Action: On Tuesday, December 7, call your Senators and urge Congress to give the people of the Gulf a voice in the restoration process, and ensure they have the resources needed to respond to the disaster and restore the Gulf. (more…)

Reflections on the Big E.A.S.Y.

December 8th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

By Leah Marcone, participant in the The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment, from Pittsburgh, PA

This entry is a reflection on The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment, offered by the PANIM Institute of BBYO. The PANIM Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values empowers Jewish teens to a lifetime of activism, leadership and service, creating a movement of young activists ready to take on the challenges facing society and the Jewish community. For more information, contact Carly Lundy at BBYO.

I arrived at New Orleans two days ago, November 7, 2010. At first I was not sure what to expect, but that soon changed. After hanging around in the airport waiting for everyone to arrive, we went to the hotel. I was a bit nervous because I was seated with people I had never talked to, that also quickly changed. I specifically bonded with two girls from Dallas, Texas. Later that day I got to hear Vice President Joe Biden speak at the GA (General Assembly). We were the first teens to ever attend the GA. (more…)

Stories from the Gulf

December 9th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

People instinctively respond to images and to personal stories that they can relate to. One of the biggest challenges in mobilizing a response to the BP oil spill has been the lack of ubiquitous and accessible images of people impacted the spill. As a recent interfaith op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel explained, “we rarely see images of the damage that will last even longer than the effects of oil on wildlife: communities teeming with people whose primary ‘feathers’ have also been clipped — steady income, physical and mental health, and food security. A bird drenched in oil conveys a clear message, but it is more difficult to capture the human aspect of the Gulf Coast oil spill.”

But the images and the stories are there, and our partners in the Gulf Coast are doing their best to capture them and use these images and video to send a clear message: the oil spill disaster is not over. That’s why we incorporated a Multimedia feature into After the Spill from the start, and why we consistently update the page with new material. The page features incredible video produced by the Bridge the Gulf project, the Gulf Restoration Network, and so many other Gulf Coast advocates and activists. (more…)

Wrap Up: The Big E.A.S.Y.

December 10th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

By Sarah Arnold , participant in the The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment, from Memphis, TN

On Monday (November 8) the teen participants in The Big EASY: A Jewish Teen Summit on the Environment, offered by the PANIM Institute of BBYO, participated in Volunteer NOLA with all of the participants of the JFNA’s (Jewish Federation of North America) General Assembly. The teens participated with Beacon of Hope for their service project.  Below is a reflection on their service.

While ripping through what seemed to be a jungle full of weeds, we discovered a sidewalk. Finding a sidewalk may not seem like a big deal to most, but discovering this recognizable, everyday landmark while cleaning up an empty lot we realized that the lot used to have a home that was destroyed by hurricane Katrina.

This find reminded me and the group of teens I was with that this lot used to be someone’s home. That’s when we realized that the hundreds of lots around us were all once people’s homes and that the largest vacant lot in the area used to be a school where all the neighborhood kids attended. We were cleaning the lots so that the neighborhood in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans would be safer for these kids and their parents. (more…)

Bridging Troubled Waters in the Gulf

December 15th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

The disasters in the Gulf – from Hurricane Katrina to the oil spill – threaten to drive communities apart as environmental and economic situations deteriorate and anxiety about the future rises. Yet, sometimes these tragedies bring communities together, even those that have not historically worked side by side. That is the story of an Orthodox and Reform Jewish community in New Orleans, who have been sharing common space since one congregation lost their building in the storm.

Through sharing space, they share religious teachings and traditions, build stronger community, and begin to become “apostles of pluralism,” says one of the rabbis involved.

As a recent article on the partnership explains, “The tale of how Orthodox and Reform communities came to plan their future together is one that combines fate, compassion and the most unlikely of warm relationships between the Orthodox and Reform rabbis at the helm of their respective congregations.”

The New York Jewish Week recently covered their inspiring story, and it’s one we are happy to share as we build partnerships throughout the faith community, within and beyond the Gulf Coast.

Good news for Gulf Coast affordable housing development

December 17th, 2010 | Uncategorized |

originally posted on jspot.org: home of the new Jewish netroots
by Laura Wintroub

[update: the House passed the tax bill late last night by a 277-148 margin, sending the bill - with a one year GO Zone tax credit extension - to the President to be signed]

(New Orleans Times-Picayune)

We’ve written before about the Gulf Opportunity Zone tax credits, which were set to expire at the end of the year.  The end of those credits threatened to halt several important affordable housing and business development initiatives in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Late yesterday came the good news that the Senate approved a one year extension through 2011 as part of tax bill.  Though it wasn’t the two year extension initially requested by Senatory Landrieu, her office expressed optimism in securing the hoped for two year extension in early 2011 after receiving bipartisan commitment  from Senate leaders.

Watch the proceedings from the Senate floor and read more here.

Unsung Heroes of the Oil Disaster

December 21st, 2010 | Uncategorized |

Wildlife Promise, the blog of the National Wildlife Federation, recently posted a list of their top 10 unsung heroes of the BP oil spill disaster as their “small way of saying thanks to these friends of Gulf Coast’s people and wildlife.” The list includes fishermen and newspaper reporters who became critical  Gulf Coast advocates, a high school student who organized a concert to raise over $5,000 for restoration, and even celebrity Alyssa Milano – an unexpected activist for the Gulf!

We’re proud of our friend and colleague Patty Whitney, an organizer with Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO) in south Louisiana, for her appearance on the list. For the full list – and to learn more about how you can be a Gulf Coast hero – visit Wildlife Promise.

New Year, Same Commitment

January 6th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

It’s a new year with new challenges and a new Congress, but the faith community’s commitment to the restoration and renewal of the economic and environmental systems of the Gulf Coast is not over. That’s why Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), with support from the Union for Reform Judaism, recently announced the disbursement of $40,000 in grants to grassroots Gulf Coast organizations assisting those who are out of work, retraining people for new jobs and working on coastal restoration.

Through years of work across the Gulf Coast, JFSJ has developed a multi-pronged approach to restoration that includes grant-making to organizations that advocate and build power for marginalized communities, investing in community development corporations to strengthen local businesses and build affordable housing, leadership development for those working on the ground, and service learning programs that connect young people to the region. (more…)

Housing Action Tomorrow!

January 7th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Denise Graves, MICAH Project Organizer

On Saturday, January 8, the MICAH Project – the New Orleans chapter of the national interfaith community organizing effort PICO – joins with the New St. Mark Baptist Church in New Orleans for a Community Action on affordable housing, blight elimination and securing Community Benefits Agreements from area development projects.

The action focuses attention on families in central city and throughout New Orleans who are rendered house-poor because the majority of their money goes toward rent and mortgage costs. The grassroots leadership at New St. Mark have met with rental advocacy groups, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), planners, housing counselors, and the city, and a meeting with the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) is pending.  We have conducted congregational surveys and face to face conversations that we call one-to-ones.  Our learnings have produced three desired outcomes:

  1. bring resolution to 15 blighted properties around the church
  2. provide grassroots education, counseling and economic relief to families
  3. encourage and hold developers accountable for including the project community in employment, vendor usage and surrounding community beautification. (more…)

Oil Spill Report Demands Action

January 11th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(Originally posted on the RAC blog)

Today, nearly nine months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released a comprehensive analysis on the causes and lessons learned from the BP oil disaster. The Commission report – over 300 pages based on months of investigation into an event that killed 11 men and set off the worst environmental justice disaster of our time – tells a powerful tale of an under-regulated industry run amok, the catastrophic consequences of a failed safety and regulatory system, and the overwhelming need to learn and act on the lessons of this disaster.

The report encompasses recommendations and insights from a wide variety of voices, and the message is undeniable: the oil industry is simply not equipped to self-regulate to prevent disaster or adequately respond when mistakes happen, and it’s time for Congress and the Administration to act to protect workers, the environment and the livelihood of the Gulf Coast. (more…)

Gulf Coast Fund Grantees and Advisors Site Urgent Need for Health Care

January 19th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(originally posted on BPSlick)

GULF COAST FUND GRANTEES AND ADVISORS SITE URGENT NEED FOR HEALTH CARE
Communities Report Growing Health Crisis Among Residents

January 13, 2011 (New Orleans) -  On Wednesday, January 12, community leaders from across the Gulf Coast attended a public hearing on the National Oil Spill Commission’s final report. The meeting was led by report Commissioners Frances Beinecke and Donald Boesch.

(photo from Bridge the Gulf)

“The key concern expressed by the community in response to the report is the overwhelming need for access to health care. Over and over, people exposed to crude and dispersants from the drilling disaster told stories of serious health issues–from high levels of ethylbenzene in their blood, to respiratory ailments and internal bleeding—and expressed an urgent need for access to doctors who have experience treating chemical exposure,” states LaTosha Brown, Director, Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health. The Gulf Coast Fund provides grants and support to over 250 community organizations in order to create a healthy and sustainable Gulf Coast. (more…)

New Video…and Old Oil

January 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(Photo Credit: Markus Huettel)

The latest installment of Gulf Tides, a video documentary series on the BP oil spill disaster from our friends at Gulf Restoration Network, is up today. The news isn’t good, as complaints about transparency and equality in distribution (or lack thereof) continue to plague the BP claims process. Check out the video to see what these flaws in the claims process might mean for Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems, both immediately and months and years down the road.

Just as the economic impacts of the spill continue to plague the Gulf Coast, so does the oil itself. An update from the National Wildlife Fund finds that oil remains – just feet beneath the surface – across the Coast. As the Wildlife Promise blog explains, despite the cleaned up surface, one need only “dig two feet below the pristine surface and a tarry, brown surprise awaits you – you’ve struck oil.”

Their studies find that both crude and dispersed oil have been washed ashore and trapped just below the sand, complicating the clean-up process and threatening clean water supplies. Nine months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, one thing is clear: much work remains to clean up the oil spill mess and continue the long work of restoring the Gulf.

State of the Union/State of the Gulf

January 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(originally posted on the RACblog)

(photo courtesy UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg)

Clean energy was a primary focus of Tuesday’s State of the Union, but the President failed to mention the oil spill disaster (Aaron Viles at Gulf Restoration Network does a great job explaining why this is omission was a mistake). Still, it’s been a big week in Washington for Gulf Coast advocates, as the co-chairs of the Oil Spill Commission came to Congress calling for key reforms to the offshore oil industry and protections for the future of the Gulf Coast.

Former Senator Bob Graham and former EPA Commissioner Bill Reilly forcefully defended the Commission’s report, released earlier this month, to key House and Senate committees. Their report slams both industry and government for the failures that enabled the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but also asserts that, with reforms, fossil fuel production can continue safely.

Graham and Reilly summarized their testimony in an op-ed, “Due diligence for offshore drilling,” recommending creation of an independent agency to oversee offshore drilling safety, separating safety and oversight from the royalties collection process that has deeply corrupted this agency in the past; increasing the liability cap on oil companies so taxpayers are never on the hook for a driller’s mistakes; dedicated funding for Gulf Coast restoration; and more attention and funding for oil spill response planning. (more…)

They’re Doing More Than Fine on Their Own…

February 4th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(originally posted on the RACblog)

It’s been a roller coaster of a year so far for Big Oil. The industry got called to the mat in President Obama’s State of the Union, which called for the repeal of fossil fuel subsidies and a specific recognition that oil companies are doing “just fine on their own” (even though the speech featured no mention of last year’s massive Gulf oil spill disaster). Yet, in the week since the speech, it seems that everything is coming up roses for BP and Big Oil, serving a powerful reminder that we won’t get to a clean energy economy through words alone.

Despite continued environmental cleanup and economic claims costs from the Deepwater Horizon spill, BP joined other big oil companies in reporting strong profits in the fourth quarter of 2010 – greater profits than this time last year, in fact. And as profits rise, costs seem to be dropping for BP, with recent rumors that the company is pushing the EPA to cut back, by as much as half, their estimates of the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon well last year. The amount of oil spilled dictates the penalties for which BP is liable – cutting the spill estimate could mean billions of dollars in avoided penalties for BP, and billions of dollars not available for restoring the environments ravaged by the spill.

(more…)

The Truth About the BP Oil Spill

February 10th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Andrew Simpson
This blog post originally appeared on Sojourners God’s Politics blog

Ten months have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and by now most of the nation has shifted its focus away from the gulf to more recent and pressing topics. But for many who live in the Gulf Coast region, the tragedy of last April is one they must relive every day as they come to terms with the destructive economic and environmental ramifications of the disaster within their communities.

Despite the relatively short attention span of our nation, the oil spill has once again become the topic of conversation in recent weeks as the presidential panel investigating the causes of the BP disaster has released its results. The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling included in its findings a detailed account of the factors which laid the groundwork for the disaster. It also enumerated the effects of the spill and issued strong warnings that such a catastrophe could occur again if industry practices and regulations do not improve dramatically. (more…)

Beyond Recovery

February 16th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(originally posted on RACblog)

(photo courtesy of United Press International)

Remember last summer, when you couldn’t open a newspaper or check your twitter feed without reading about the BP oil spill disaster unfolding in the Gulf? Ten months later, the story is out of sight for the media, but the continuing economic and environmental impacts of the oil are not out of the minds of activists, elected officials or people of faith across the Gulf Coast and across the country.

For these residents and advocates, the message is clear: government action is still needed to restore the environment and economy of the Gulf and to prevent a future disaster on a coast near you. Alabama Senator Shelby testified recently on the continued impacts of the spill for his home state, speaking of the hits to the Alabama economy from lost fishing, recreation and tourism dollars and the on-going impacts likely to result from the spill. Senator Shelby called for allocated resources for restoration efforts and spoke of the need to “put in place mechanisms to assist them with rebuilding and restoration efforts as the Gulf continues to recover from this disaster.” (more…)

Scandinavian Spill

February 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

February 28 update: new (and disturbing!) photos of clean-up now available from Greenpeace images

(photo courtesy of New York Times)

Just when you thought you might never see another photo of oil-absorbent boom, the Icelandic ship Godafass ran aground last week and began dumping oil into a Norwegian marine park.

Though not as disastrous as authorities originally feared, the oil is endangering habitats for sea birds, coral reef and other wildlife in the marine reserve. Attempts to contain the spill have been slowed and stifled by the Arctic ice, which is also preventing officials on scene from accurately estimating how much oil was spilled (up to 1,000 pounds, but likely less, according to reports). Perhaps this is a lesson to keep in mind as we consider drilling in our own Arctic waters?

The photos and video of the spill, courtesy of the Norwegian Coast Guard, are disturbingly familiar: clean-up workers scooping up crude, oiled boom floating through the water, and dirty brown coloring what should be blue waters. Even as the impacts of the BP Gulf oil spill continue, a quick look around the world shows the daily dangers of our oil reliance on display.

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Videos for the Gulf: Deepwater Deliberations

March 2nd, 2011 | Uncategorized |

The latest episode of Gulf Tides, a series of online videos from the Gulf Restoration Network, went live this week. The video features the testimony of coastal residents directly impacted by the oil spill, from environmental scientists to the President of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. The bottom line: both BP and the government have made many promises since the Deepwater Horizon exploded nearly one year ago, but little action has been taken.

It’s time for that to change! We’ve studied the Gulf and watched the harm from natural and man-made causes decimate the coast, and it’s time for a serious response. Watch the video and learn how you can take action today.

And if you need another reminder of why we should act, check out these amazing photos from Bayou Grace Church, where they asked congregants of all ages “Why Should We Save Coastal Louisiana?” Answers range from preserving the state’s natural beauty to stopping hurricane erosion. What’s yours?

Call for letters from the Gulf

March 7th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

Bridge the Gulf, a storytelling initiative focused on economic and environmental justice for the communities of the Gulf Coast, is currently collecting testimonial letters to be delivered during an upcoming series of meetings with congressional leaders. Delegates will hand distribute all letters to federal entities and leaders, and a sampling from each category will be posted online for public viewing.

Faith voices are important to this conversation, and we hope faith leaders across and beyond the Gulf Coast will submit one page letters about their experiences with the oil spill and its long-term impacts. Suggested topics include the impacts of dispersants, the claims process and media coverage of the spill. Letters must be submitted by email by  this Friday, March 11.

For more information about the project and the process, visit Bridge the Gulf’s Call for Letters page.

World Oil Roundup

March 9th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

originally posted on the RACblog

Update (March 8, 6 pm): it’s been a rough week for oil production. A rig explosion off the Louisiana coast on Tuesday forced two workers to escape on a life boat and the Coast Guard to scramble in response (luckily, with no fatalities), and just two days later an onlooker spotted an oil leak in Ventura, California.

From the streets of Libya to the halls of Capitol Hill, one word has been heard over and over in recent weeks: oil. As always, the price spikes caused by current global unrest are prompting a forceful debate about America’s energy policy (or lack thereof). Though the United States’ oil imports from Libya are a drop in the bucket of our overall consumption, the violence in North Africa will still become a rallying point for advocates of increasing domestic fossil fuel production. Yet, short-sighted responses in the name of energy security exacerbate our long-term energy crisis, threaten our health and environment, and undermine support for truly sustainable solutions. (more…)

Walk the Walk: Gulf Residents March to Washington

March 10th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

This weekend, a brave (and hopefully strong-footed) team led by Cherri Foytlin – journalist, mother of six, and wife of an oil rig worker in Louisiana – will begin a month-long, 1,200+ mile walk from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. Cherri and her Road to Washington team will stop at towns and cities along the way to talk to local residents, raise awareness of the continuing impacts of the BP spill, and garner support for the impacted communities of the Gulf Coast.

Her message and mission are simple. Nearly one year after the spill began, Cherri Foytlin and her family have “had enough.  As her family’s livelihood is increasingly threatened by financial deprivation, Ms. Foytlin has run out of time.” (more…)

What’s that in the Gulf?

March 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized |

Mardi Gras is over but it was a roller coaster weekend for the Gulf following the siting Saturday morning of a possible oil spill off the Louisiana coast. On Sunday an oil-like substance began washing up in the marshes, sending environmental advocates and Coast Guard officials scrambling to solve the mystery.

Reports varied almost hourly throughout the weekend, claiming both the material in the water and the substance on shore could be anything from natural sediment flows to a miles-long oil sheen connected to last year’s Deepwater Horizon explosion. After several citizen scientists on regular fly-overs of the Gulf reported to the Coast Guard seeing miles of “rainbow sheen” resembling oil on Saturday, the investigation began. It was “confirmed oil” on Sunday morning according to local news sources and officials who reported patches of oil stretching several miles into the water and reaching Louisiana beaches. (more…)

One Year Later – What Oil Spill?

April 11th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

Next week we will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill, a disaster that killed 11 men and devastated the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast. We’ll feature daily blog posts from faith leaders across the Gulf Coast and across the country on After the Spill throughout the week, so check back often for reflections and calls to action.

However, today I’m struck by two recent New Orleans Times-Picayune articles, both of which express the enormous frustration of Gulf residents at the government, the oil industry and all Americans for our failed response to the spill. The staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune got it right in their recent piece: “A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill — from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy.” (more…)

Resources for the One Year Anniversary

April 15th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Next week we will mark the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster, which killed 11 men and devastated the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast. As people and communities of faith prepare to commemorate this occasion with prayer, education and advocacy, After the Spill has prepared a special resource page to help in your efforts.

The page features worship and advocacy resources for the oil spill anniversary and Earth Day, as well as general worship resources; a listing of memorial events across the Gulf Coast and across the country; and stories on the anniversary from various media outlets. The resource, events and media lists will continue to grow throughout the next two weeks – and we hope you’ll add your own events and stories by emailing Rachel Cohen at After the Spill.

Visit the One Year Anniversary Page today to help you and your community commemorate the one year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill and take action for a brighter energy and environmental future for the Gulf Coast and for us all.

The Oil Spill Disaster – One Year Later

April 18th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

by Rachel Cohen

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. (photo © 2010 International Bird Rescue Research Center)

This week we mark one year since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 men and beginning the dumping of five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There are dozens of events taking place across the Gulf and across the country (more here) to commemorate the disaster and raise awareness about the on-going impacts of the spill for the environment, economy and health of communities on the Gulf Coast.

Their message: despite the TV ads and media messages, this crisis is not over for the most impacted communities and ecosystems across the region, and we must continue to pay attention and take action. That is why we as faith communities began the After the Spill campaign, and why we will work throughout this anniversary week – and in the weeks and months to come – to focus attention from across the nation on the lasting impacts of the BP oil spill disaster. (more…)

For Gulf Coast Residents, the Oil Spill Nightmare Continues

April 19th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Patty Whitney
originally posted on God’s Politics

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here. (photo © 2010 International Bird Rescue Research Center)

For three months last year the Gulf Coast oil spill was the major topic of news reports all over the world. From the explosion on April 20, 2010, until the capping of the gushing well on July 15, 2010, the headlines were consumed with images and dialogue about the tragedy unfolding before our very eyes.

Shortly after the news of the capping, the government reported that “most” of the oil was gone, and that things were getting back to normal. The camera crews packed up. The reporters turned in their hotel room keys and gathered their deductible tax receipts. And they all left. Kumbaya, the oil was gone, and the world was normal again. The world could move on to other, more pressing interests. That is … the rest of the world could move on to other, more pressing interests.

For the people of the Gulf Coast the nightmare continues. Oil still washes up daily in marshes and beaches along the coast. Birds and marine animals are dying in unprecedented numbers, and scientists can’t seem to find the cause. (more…)

Remembrance of the Gulf Oil Spill

April 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by the Advocacy Ministries of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
originally posted on Voices for Change

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

This week, as we pause to remember Christ’s death on the cross and the redemption and hope of the risen Christ on Easter Sunday, we also mark another anniversary.

On April 20, 2010 an oil explosion killed 11 people in the Gulf of Mexico and erupted into one of the worst man-made disasters our nation has ever faced.  By the time British Petroleum (BP) managed to cap the oil well located below the Deepwater Horizon rig, more than four million barrels of oil had gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.

(more…)

Truly a Blessed People

April 20th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Tyler Edgar, National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

John 20:24-27 reads:

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said,“Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

This week’s Lenten scripture speaks to the power of faith and the importance of Easter and Christ’s resurrection. With this week also the one year anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill, I can’t help but think about this scripture passage in the context of the Gulf Coast, its communities, its culture, and its path to recovery. In John 20:29 Jesus asks “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

(more…)

One Year Later, Big Oil Still Isn’t Sorry

April 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Andrew Simpson, Sojourners
originally posted on God’s Politics

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

One year after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, life has not returned to normal in the Gulf. Tourism and fishing industries remain crippled, communities are faced with outbreaks of disease, and thousands of miles of coastal wetlands have been destroyed.

However, it would appear that despite all the devastation one thing has returned to normal: the oil industry. (more…)

The Way We Treat Ourselves: Reflections on the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

April 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Christine Elliott, Franciscan Action Network

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

During Holy Week, we experience the climax of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. This year, we remember the anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and Gulf of Mexico oil spill on Wednesday of Holy Week and Earth Day on Good Friday.

Last week, FAN volunteer Br. Jeff Wilson, TOR and members Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF (Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia) and Susan Burns (in formation with the Secular Franciscan Order) joined FAN staff member Christy Elliott to meet and learn from Cherri Foytlin and Drew Landry, who walked from Louisiana to Washington, DC as part of a “Road to Washington” journey to raise awareness about the ongoing effects of the oil spill, including health problems. Drew explained that the trip had been a “spiritual journey” for the group and compared someone chained to a tree or gas pump to someone arrested outside an abortion clinic, citing the “same passion for life” which motivates efforts to protect. Expressing a desire to bring those committed to life together, Drew asked, “How do we make human life, or any life, more important than profit?”

(more…)

Remembering the 11 Lives Lost

April 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

by Rev. Dr. Cory Sparks, Chair, Commission on Stewardship of the Environment of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference.

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

On April 20, the Sierra Club held an interfaith memorial service on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster. Dozens of New Orleans residents met for a sunrise service in the Washington Artillery Park, between Jackson Square and the Mississippi River. Rev. Sparks’ prepared remarks remember the 11 men killed:

Dozens die every year in the oilfield. Their deaths don’t get much coverage, maybe a paragraph or two in the back pages of the paper – stories about a helicopter crash, an explosion, or some other little noticed horror. The deaths on the Deepwater Horizon drew far more attention because of their sheer number. But they quickly became the prologue to a greater drama as the life of the Gulf and the livelihoods of thousands were thrown into question. (more…)

A Rabbi’s Remarks on the One Year Anniversary of the BP Disaster

April 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

by Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn, Congregation Temple Sinai, New Orleans, LA
originally posted on the RACblog

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

These reflections were delivered by Rabbi Cohn at a sunrise memorial held in New Orleans on April 20.

My dear friends,

One week ago I watched as our granddaughter, Ryann Eliza was brought into this world. Among my emotions and prayerful, urgent thoughts surrounding that unforgettably sweet and wonderful scene, was the fervent prayer:

And please God, may this child inherit a world of healthy air and sea and natural abundance.

On Ryann’s eighth day of life, we have gathered in this prominent place – our backs to the river and gulf but our faces toward the Citadel of faith, of government and commerce – to this day commemorate the first anniversary of the BP spill which was America’s greatest natural disaster in its 235 year history.

People quite rightly are asking: (more…)

Don’t be crude: End our oil addiction

April 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Dan Misleh, executive director, Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

The following is excerpted from a piece originally posted on U.S. Catholic: A Conversation with American Catholics

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

It’s time to get the petroleum monkey off our backs.

Hello, my name is Dan, and I’m addicted to oil.

I recently looked around me to catalog all the things made from oil…The plastics list is endless.

…As we near the first anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil spill, I hope we can all acknowledge our addiction and—for the sake of the planet and the unpleasant fact that we will eventually run out of fossil fuels—seek help to get clean and sober. (more…)

Methodists Celebrate Earth Sunday

April 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Samuel Ahn, Economic & Environmental Justice, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church
(learn more on the UMC-GBCS Earth Day Resource Page)

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

April presents a unique opportunity for all who have a deep concern for God’s Creation. It is especially poignant for those in the Christian tradition. For Christians, the period of Holy Week this year brings not only the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, but also an opportunity for Christians to celebrate the Festival of God’s Creation/Earth Day Sunday. As a matter of fact, Earth Day Sunday, typically celebrated the first Sunday after Earth Day, falls on Easter Sunday, April 24.

Easter Sunday is also the first Sunday after the first anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil disaster. The long, painful drama of summer 2010 began with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the death of 11 persons, and the subsequent sinking of the entire rig on April 22, 2010.

This juxtaposition of a celebration of resurrection against a remembrance of death and destruction presents an opportunity for congregations. It is important to recognize the importance of Easter and what it means for our Christian faith. But, we cannot ignore the implications of our actions on the lives of our brothers and sisters, as well as on God’s good Creation. (more…)

The Future of the Gulf Coast

April 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

by Sr. Marge Clark, BVM, lobbyist on domestic human needs at NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Network: A Catholic Social Justice LobbyThis entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial in your own community here.

Easter Sunday, April 24, marked the one-year anniversary of the official announcement that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was leaking oil. One year after the disaster, tourism proponents are touting pristine and sparkling beaches –– evidence that the disaster is behind us – ready for your visit.  However, not all is pristine and much is not healthy.

In recent weeks, oil which settled to coat the ocean floor has come to the surface in hardened globs. Just a month ago new oil slicks were investigated off Grand Isle and Elmer Island in Louisiana. There is continued caution on the part of coastal residents about the health of local shrimp and oysters. The health of the ecological region is still in question and will remain so for decades to come. (more…)

Gulf Care: interfaith work on human ecology

April 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

by Erik Schwarz, managing partner of Interfaith Works, a New Orleans-based nonprofit that is the incubator for Gulf Care, an interfaith recovery initiative formed in the wake of the oil spill

This entry is part of our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Find resources to commemorate the memorial here.

Now that we are just on the other side of the one-year anniversary of the spill, this is a good time to survey the field and see who continues to stand with the impacted communities along the Gulf Coast. Among many responders, faith groups have distinguished themselves as the most persistent agents for recovery and restoration. After the media have left the scene and the politicians moved on to other talking points, faith groups remain. Since the early days of the spill, these groups reached out to care not only for their flocks but for the larger communities in which they are embedded.

Coastal Louisiana was hit particularly hard, but faith groups there had been prepared by their experiences with Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike to respond effectively and cooperatively. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baha’is, Buddhists and others were already networked in a groundbreaking organization headquartered in Baton Rouge called the Louisiana Interfaith Disaster Recovery Network (LIDRN). Shortly after the spill, my organization – New Orleans-based nonprofit Interfaith Works – partnered with LIDRN to build a response initiative named Gulf Care. (more…)

Supporting self-sufficiency along the Bayou

April 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

by Evan Ponder, wetland communities advocate and Young Adult Volunteer with Bayou Blue Presbyterian Church in Gray, LA.

This entry concludes our interfaith series of reflections and calls to action around the one year memorial of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill disaster. Stay tuned for more from After the Spill!

One year has passed since the oil disaster began, and we still know relatively little about what the future holds. For the rest of the country, the oil spill is over. Here in Louisiana, we will be dealing with this spill for decades, and it has already begun to change our way of life. What are the long term effects on oysters, crabs and shrimp? What caused the large number of dead dolphin and sea turtles found washed ashore on Gulf Coast beaches? How much oil is at the bottom of the gulf, and will oiled marshes survive? Will people be able to fish again next year, or the year after, or the year after?

Louisiana has long been treated as an environmental sacrifice zone; a place to extract resources for the benefit of the rest of the country, with little thought and care for those who live here. Cancer rates are high, especially for communities near oil refineries and oilfield waste sites. Offshore oil workers and fishermen face some of the highest mortality rates, and the oil spill has compounded an ongoing problem linked to oil and gas activity: the erosion and subsidence of the wetlands. (more…)

Reflections on Water

April 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

By Rowan Van Ness, Program Associate for Environmental Justice, Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth

Early on Saturday morning, I was rushing to pick up coffee for an event. Rain lightly drizzled, and I ran across the parking lot. A friend was with me, and I called him to stop. “Look at that puddle,” I said.

That puddle, like almost every puddle except on the cloudiest of days, reflected the trees and the shops around us. As we walked around it, we could see the reflections change. Nature. Buildings. Penny, candy wrapper, and dead leaves at the bottom of the puddle. The magic of reflection amazes me every time and noticing puddles has become a spiritual practice of mine.

How often do we stop and notice water? The puddles, the rivers, the ocean? The showers, the washing machines, the toilets, the sprinklers? In industrialized nations, we have largely forgotten just how dependent we are on water. In most places in the US, we can turn on a tap, at any time of any day, and have clean, potable water flow until we turn it off. That is amazing! (more…)

Gulf Future: A Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf

April 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

The oil spill has passed, and with it, much of the media and public attention to the events of one year ago. Now it’s time to look forward to the future for the Gulf. That’s why I’m excited that our friends at the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) and dozens of Gulf partners have come together to launch Gulf Future: A Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf.

Here’s more from Dan Favre of GRN in his post: Gulf Future: A Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf
originally posted on the Gulf Restoration Network blog on April 20, 2011

Today, thirty-six organizations unveiled a collaborative effort called Gulf Future: A Unified Action Plan for A Healthy Gulf. The diverse group is made up of fishermen, faith leaders, environmentalists, clean-up workers, and residents who live, work, and play on the Gulf Coast.  The organizations come from all five Gulf Coast states and represent culturally and racially diverse communities.

Divided into four areas of concern – marine restoration and resiliency, coastal restoration and resiliency, community recovery and resiliency, and public health – the Gulf Future action plan expresses immediate goals, including specific demands of Congress, federal agencies, and the Obama administration for a healthy and whole Gulf Coast.

Download the Gulf Future Action Plan or check out www.gulffuture.org for more.

Seder Table Talk: The BP Oil Spill Anniversary

April 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

by Eric Harris, Press Secretary, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
originally  posted on the RACblog

As we celebrated Passover this year, we also celebrated the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, the global day of environmental advocacy. Talk around my seder table centered on preparing for the 50th anniversary of the Religious Action Center and the upcoming Consultation on Conscience. But then things took a darker turn as we began talking about the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill disaster.

We all agreed that there were many elements to this dialogue that were baffling and frustrating. For example, despite the devastating impact the oil spill had on our ecosystem, our economy and the residents and communities of the Gulf, our fight to end our country’s crippling addiction to oil continues to feel like a losing battle. It also angered us to learn that 11 new deep water and 49 shallow water-drilling permits were recently issued in the Gulf. (more…)

Failing to Move Forward on Energy

May 6th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

by Rachel Cohen
(originally posted on RACblog)

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass H.R. 1230, the first in a series of bills that supporters claim will lower gas prices and create jobs, but would in fact endanger people and the environment while doing little to alleviate short- or long-term energy challenges. As our Associate Director Mark Pelavin said in our statement on the bill, “We are disappointed by Congress’ failure to move our nation toward a safe and sustainable energy and environmental future, acting instead to accelerate dangerous offshore oil drilling.”

I could not agree more. We are one year out from the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 men and spilled five million barrels of oil – and communities across the Gulf Coast are still feeling the impact. Yet rather than act to restore the Gulf, prevent future oil disasters and move our nation to clean energy (don’t forget to urge your members of Congress to support these efforts!), some legislators insist on expanding and accelerating dangerous drilling. (more…)

Sing Out for the Gulf

May 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

There are many ways to raise our voices for environmental and economic justice on the Gulf Coast, and I’m thankful for the recent contribution of Dan Schatz, a Unitarian minister and folk-singer who calls for a clean energy future through his songs. His most recent song, “The Promise of the Sowing,” recounts the horrors of the BP spill and other dirty energy disasters.  Check out the video today and share your thoughts on how you speak out – or sing out – for what you care about in the comments section.

Thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Association and Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth for sharing this inspirational video and the work of their  Sacred Waters campaign.

Gulf Advocates Storm the Hill

May 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

(photo credit Jeffrey Dubinsky)

After the Spill coalition partners joined advocates from all five Gulf states this week as they traveled to Washington, D.C. to introduce “Gulf Future: A Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf.” The plan, developed by dozens of Gulf groups, proposes specific steps to restore coastal and marine environments damaged by the BP spill disaster, and to improve the public health and resiliency of communities across the Gulf.

The advocates – a diverse group of environmentalists, businesspeople, and fishing community representatives – made their case to Representatives and Senators from across the Gulf Coast and on key House and Senate committees. Their message, according to one local newspaper account: “support efforts to help the region recover from last year’s oil spill and to back legislation giving their states most of the money BP will pay in fines.”

(more…)

Gulf Stories: Oil, Chemicals, Illness

June 7th, 2011 | Uncategorized |

Even as BP is winding down clean-up efforts, and the government is moving to expand oil drilling, fishermen and oil workers across the Gulf are just beginning to show the extent of strange symptoms – symptoms of  illnesses that many assert are oil-induced.

In disturbing new videos, former commercial bait fisherman Joey Yerkes and others  discuss their experiences with the oil spill and sicknesses they believe they are experiencing as a result. Hear stories from Joey and others involved in Gulf fishing and the BP Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) clean-up program here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Public health is a priority in the Gulf Future Action Plan, which calls for accessible health care provided at the local level by experts who understand chemical exposure issues; education for health care providers on oil-spill related health impacts; and accurate tracking of impacts by government and communities. After watching these videos it’s hard not to join their call for action.

Joining Hands Across the Sand

June 23rd, 2011 | Uncategorized |

On Saturday, June 25, thousands of people across the globe will gather on beaches and coastlines to stand in solidarity and support a clean energy future. They will all be taking part in the second Hands Across the Sand, an idea conceived last year by a Florida restaurant owner and surfer in response to the Florida state legislature’s decision to lift the long-standing ban on near-shore oil drilling.

Last February, thousands of Floridians gathered on beaches across the state, united to oppose oil drilling off their coast. After the BP spill began, a global Hands event was organized to raise awareness of the dangers of offshore drilling, with over 1,000 events in 40 countries. This weekend, participants will join together peacefully in coastal areas – those most vulnerable to the damages of offshore drilling – to demand clean energy solutions. Hands Across the Sand aims to protect vulnerable coasts and ecosystems, prevent future oil spill disasters and say yes to a clean energy future. (more…)

June Update Call: Gulf Coast Fishing Communities

June 16th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Our next After the Spill call will be Thursday, June 30 at 2 pm CST/3 pm EST – and all are welcome to join the conversation! The call will focus on oil spill impacts on Gulf fishing and seafood, and the on-going challenges for fisherfolk, Gulf restaurateurs and their communities. We’ll hear directly from oystermen, food experts, and faith leaders. This call is presented in partnership with Gulf Restoration Network.

Featured speakers:

Email today to receive the dial-in number, and spread the word! After the Spill and Gulf Restoration Network look forward to learning with you.