"It looks like there was a fire here," said Doug Meffert, vice president of the National Audubon Society and president of the Louisiana chapter, "but there wasn't a fire."
The bones of black mangrove stumps are all that remain of what was a thriving bird rookery here in Plaquemines Parish Four years ago, footage of oiled brown pelicans and the thousands of shorebirds nesting here went around the world in the aftermath of the 200 million gallons of thick crude that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
Today the only green thing on the beach is a glass bottle. There are no pelicans, no mangroves, and worse, much of Cat Island itself is washing away. It and most of the barrier islands and marsh in Barataria Bay are steadily degrading, losing their battles with coastal erosion and subsidence faster than ever. They took blows from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustave, and Ike. But the oil from the spill is rapidly accelerating their demise.
This morning's Advocate:
Four years after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig caught fire and exploded about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 men and causing one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, many questions remain unanswered about the potential long-term impacts of exposure to the millions of gallons of sweet crude and large quantities of dispersants that were used to break up the oil as it poured into the Gulf of Mexico, into wetlands and onto beaches along the Gulf Coast.Oh but nevermind. All the suffering for these sins will eventually result in... resilience.. or something.
The water management sector’s recognition as a separate segment of the local economy may be new, according to the report, but its impact on the economy has been around for years, and has dramatically increased since Hurricane Katrina, with the investment by Congress of close to $15 billion in improvements to the New Orleans area levee system and interior drainage projects.
And the sector is about to see another burst of activity, thanks to expected spending on coastal restoration projects if the state receives the billions of dollars it expects as its share of fine money and natural resource damage mitigation payments that will be paid by BP and its drilling partners in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill.
No doubt this will lead to triumphant celebration of a "green economy" developing in Louisiana. It's important to keep in mind, though, that we're really talking about a a disaster recovery economy. And in order to have that, you first need to have disasters.