Concrete ways to save the Gulf Coast: Kindra Arnesen

By Kindra Arnesen, Times-Picayune Op-ed. I've lived my whole life down in the bayou. I've shucked oysters since I was a teenager, and now I'm proud to be a fisherman's wife with two beautiful children. I wouldn't live anywhere else. But our lives got turned upside down the day the BP well blew a year ago, and they've never been the same since.

Our community has suffered greatly over the past year. Many of our fishermen worked on the oil spill cleanup and got sick from the toxic fumes of the oil and chemical dispersants. Our livelihoods are threatened by oil in the water that still washes in as tar balls and oil mats off our shores. Some of our marshes remain heavily oiled, and it's not clear when they will ever be clean again.

So you would think that a year after the greatest oil disaster in American history, our political leaders would have jumped into action to pass laws to keep anything like this from happening again. Sadly, the answer is no. In fact, our politicians seem more concerned about shutting down the government than they do about helping the very people who elected them into office.

So last week, I went to Washington to talk to my congressional delegation about passing legislation that enacts recommendations of the presidential oil commission, protects us from future disasters and rebuilds our rapidly eroding coastline.

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Photo by Rocky Kistner, NRDC.