Did the Deepwater Horizon Incident Help the Gulf?
Sportsmen and others living on the Gulf of Mexico will never say, “Thanks BP!” But there’s no denying the fact that the Deepwater Horizon blow-out has had two positive outcomes: It finally brought national attention to what was an on-going environmental disaster, and it will provide billions in funding to address that problem.
Conservation groups had been trying for decades (with little success) to get national help for the rapidly-eroding Louisiana coast, one of the world’s most prolific estuaries that had lost 2000 square miles to the Gulf in the last 70 years. These groups noticed a sudden change in Washington while BP’s river of poison was still flowing into the Gulf last year: Congress finally acknowledged the bigger problem behind the spill.
The estimated cost to fix this problem ranged as high as $100 billion, and Congress hasn’t been too generous. This is where BP comes in. The penalties under the Clean Water Act for dumping an estimated 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf could be as high as $20 billion. Normally those fines go right to the federal government’s general fund, but Congress is now considering bills that would direct 80 percent of it to restoring the entire Gulf area, with most of that going to Louisiana.
Sportsmen groups have given this move a big round of applause. Of course, no one is suggesting that exploding oil rigs should be considered as a long-term strategy for fixing the Gulf.
Great News for Wetlands, But Show Us the Money
Reading below the headlines is always good advice, especially during these times when conservation spending seems about the lowest priority in Congress. The most recent example is this one from Ducks Unlimited: “Six NAWCA projects approved in Great Plains Region.”
That’s good news because the projects could preserve some 47,000 acres. But, as the release points out only “If funded and completed …”
And, still later: “Whether these projects are a go depends on how much money comes through the door,” DU Manager of Conservation Programs Randy Renner said. “We need to wait until Congress finalizes the federal appropriations, then we will know how much funding NAWCA will receive and which projects will be funded. It is likely that several projects will go unfunded, and we will have lost a great conservation opportunity.” Here’s the full story.
As pointed out in previous posts, Congress is telling the nation it can’t afford conservation as it tries to trim $1.2 trillion from the budget over the next 10 years. So it’s time for sportsmen to contact their politicians and tell them conservation should be a top priority. You can find out who your reps are and how to reach them at www.contactingthecongress.org.