The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, is seeking comment on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion (MBSD) restoration project. If approved, the MBSD would reconnect the Mississippi River to Louisiana’s Barataria Basin and, through the controlled release of sediment-laden freshwater from the river, allow sediment and nutrients to flow into the basin with the goal of restoring wetlands and slowing the rate of coastal land loss. (Read more about sediment diversions in our earlier blog post.)
Despite advances in environmental law in recent decades, issues with implementation and enforcement continue to impede environmental progress worldwide. This is especially true in the case of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Because IUU fishing is nomadic and international, detecting and penalizing perpetrators can be difficult, if not impossible. Organized, transnational groups are increasingly turning to illegal fishing, whether to produce income, fund their networks, or conceal trafficking of drugs and people on their ships. Government—such as through customs or ports—likewise plays a large role in facilitating and concealing these illegal activities.
The Climate Adaptation Agenda: Federal Pathways to Equipping Coastal Cities With Adaptive Infrastructure
Around 40% of people in the United States live on the coast. This means over 127 million people live in regions where the future of public health and safety, housing and job security, and environmental stability is threatened by coastal impacts of climate change. According to the U.S. Global Change’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, coastal cities will likely face a number of climate-related challenges before the end of the century, including sea-level rise, which would threaten property and infrastructure, degrade important ecological systems, and exacerbate social inequalities.
When it comes to the climate crisis, some say we can innovate our way out. In his 1989 essay The End of Nature, the writer Bill McKibben mused: “We may well be able to create a world that can support our numbers and our habits, but it will be an artificial world — a space station.”
The Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico more than 10 years ago. Yet hundreds of individuals across the Gulf coast are still battling BP in court for damages related to a host of ailments arising from exposure to oil, dispersants, or both. A recent order out of the Northern District of Florida (N.D. Fla.) granting BP’s summary judgment motion as to one set of plaintiffs may be a sign of things to come. Regardless of this ruling, the sheer volume of these cases may occupy dockets for months or years.
On January 27, President Biden took historic action to protect 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, launching the most ambitious conservation plan in history. Known as “30x30”, the goal aims to provide an inclusive and bold vision for safeguarding America’s ocean, air, water, food, and communities. There are many ways the Administration could set out to achieve this goal in our ocean.
The Mississippi River Delta and Louisiana coastline are disappearing. Since the late 1920s, efforts to control the Mississippi through levees and dams have impeded its natural ability to deposit sediment downstream, contributing to large-scale land loss. It’s estimated that Louisiana’s coastal parishes lost roughly two thousand square miles of land between 1932 and 2016. As rising seas driven by climate change threaten to further consume the Gulf coast, there is an imperative to address the growing problem of shrinking landmass. Confronting this threat with a sense of urgency will allow for preservation of Louisiana’s communities, economies, and cultural resources into the future.
For the past few decades, it has seemed as if deep-sea mining was going to happen any minute. Or any year. The world is much closer to deep-sea mining than it was before, but that doesn’t mean countries, companies, or technology are any more ready to take on the challenge and unexpected impacts of this largely unknown area.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in August that this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone was unexpectedly small—in fact, the third-smallest ever measure in the 34-year record. Interestingly, this comes just two months after NOAA had forecasted a larger-than-average dead zone in early June. The cause of this shift appears to be Hurricane Hanna, whose large, powerful waves agitated the water column, disrupting algal accumulation in the Gulf.