Well is capped but trouble is floating below the surface
By Kate Rogers, Crossposted from The NonProfit Times
Oil has stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, but it's estimated that 25 percent of the 5 million barrels of oil linger just below the water's surface, moving with the waves and changing tides.
The Gulf states are slowly beginning anew six months after the worst man-made oil disaster in U.S. history.
Residents have filed claims. Promises were made to them by the well's owner British Petroleum (BP) and the federal government. But just like the oil lying below the surface, the future for local nonprofits and weary residents has yet to be seen.
Gulf residents are frustrated and concerned that, just like the oil, the physical, psychological and economic issues plaguing the region are out of sight, out of mind for the rest of the country.
President Barack Obama established a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Task Force on October 5, to help "Gulf Coast residents conserve and restore resilient and healthy ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding regions that support the diverse economies, communities, and cultures of the region."
Annie Ducmanis, project manager for the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health in New York City, said she is hopeful the task force will make good on its potential, but is wary of its execution.
"Will it be just another wonderful plan without the teeth or resources to be implemented?," Ducmanis asked rhetorically. "Will there be action on the ground? If there is, the communities that are most affected need to have a seat at the table to be a part of the process. But, it's a step in the right direction."
The appointment of federal Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to the role of task force chair was also a smart move, Ducmanis said, because of Jackson's knowledge of the Gulf.
Likewise, Mary Lee Orr, executive director of the Baton Rouge, La.-based Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), praised Jackson's appointment.
"It's very reassuring that Jackson has been appointed," Orr said. "She is intimately familiar with the area. There have been a lot of good ideas, but the implementation of the plan is what we have concerns about. It is a source of funding takes a long time before it becomes available."