Sunday, April 20, 2014

Three Gulf Coast Victories Scored Since the BP Spill

Save Our Gulf protest sign. (Credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans) Click to enlarge.
You will hear a lot of gloomy reports about the state of the Gulf Coast as we reach the fourth-year commemoration of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster on April 20.  And that’s fair.  BP deserves little cheer in the face of widespread health problems across the Gulf, for both humans and marine animals, and the disappearance of entire fishing communities. Despite what BP is telling us, it ain’t all good.  But it ain’t all bad, either.

Gulf Coast communities from the Florida Panhandle to Texas’s right shoulder had been through a few disaster rodeos before the BP spill.  They’ve survived hurricanes named for just about every letter of the alphabet.  And they’ve endured careless and reckless decisions from every level of government, way more than one time too many.  Given those past experiences, residents and activists along the Gulf corralled together after the BP disaster to make sure their most immediate concerns would be heard this time around.

Region-wide networks like the Gulf Future Coalition and the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health were formed immediately after the spill to harness the expertise of Gulf citizens who often historically were excluded from recovery processes.  Through guiding documents like the Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf and media projects like Bridge the Gulf, community members were able to voice their concerns and demands, free of bureaucratic or political filters.

These projects gave Gulf residents the opportunity not only to frame the Gulf recovery narrative, but also to influence government-led recovery plans.  The result has been three demonstrable victories:
  1. The Gulf Coast gets to keep the money.
  2. Gulf Coast residents get some health care (even as they’re denied the full benefits of Obamacare).
  3. You don’t have to rely on Anderson Cooper for your Gulf news anymore.
Three Gulf Coast Victories Scored Since the BP Spill

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