Gulf Coast Residents take the Gulf Future Action Plan to Congress
By Michelle Erenberg, Gulf Restoration Network. May 23-24, thirteen Gulf residents descended upon Washington, DC to press national lawmakers to help restore and protect the Gulf of Mexico region in the aftermath of the BP oil drilling disaster. It has been over a year since BP's disaster began and, while several bills have been introduced in both houses, Congress has yet to pass legislation responding to the nation's largest oil disaster in history. As part of the Blue Vision Summit on ocean policy, members of the Gulf citizen group, representing a diverse cross-section of business, cultural, social and conservation interests, were promoting Gulf Future: A Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf.
Image: From Left to Right: Rachel Cohen, Steve Bradberry, Jeffrey Buchanan, Michele Roberts, Johanna Polsenberg, Vaness Hamilton, Casi Callaway, Cyn Sarthou, Terese Collins, Brenda Dardar Robichaux, Josh Pelletier, Angel Troung
Gulf Future advocates focused on pushing Congress to enact two particular recommendations:
• Legislation to ensure that fines levied against BP and other responsible parties under the Clean Water Act are used for ecosystem restoration in the Gulf, and
• Creation of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens Advisory Council that will give local, impacted communities a voice in oversight of oil and gas activity and disaster response plans.
They spent two days attending meetings with lawmakers from all five Gulf States as well as staff from key committees such as the House Committee on Natural Resources. On Tuesday morning, Gulf representatives held a briefing where they introduced the Gulf Future Plan. Speakers included Steve Bradberry of the Alliance Institute, Cynthia Sarthou of Gulf Restoration Network, Casi Callaway of Mobile Baykeeper, David McLain of Apalachicola Riverkeeper, and Angel Troung of Asian Americans for Change. These speakers discuss the Gulf Future Goals in each of the four priority areas; 1) Coastal Restoration, 2) Marine Restoration, 3) Community Recovery and Resiliency, and 4) Public Health. We’d like to thank Representative Cedric Richmond (LA) for hosting the briefing.
For more information about the Gulf Future Plan and the members of the coalition, visit www.gulffuture.org.