Blogging for the Gulf: RS joins in

Blogging for the Gulf: A proposition

Reposted from Nature Blog Network here

No doubt every nature blogger was avidly following the ongoing tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon disaster earlier this year from its stomach-churning beginning to its unsettled conclusion to the frustrating way the public eye was removed from the still suffering people and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast once BP got their Sharper-Image-reject level technology to finally work (a cap! Getouttatown!).

Indeed for three long months anyone and everyone who cares about nature was held rapt by failure after failure after failure.  It was at some level it was self-salvation, to become absorbed by the human drama because the very real effect on the Gulf ecosystem seemed too catastrophic, too overwhelming, to fully internalize.  To dwell too much was, and still is, physically sickening.   All the more because the fallout from all of this remains a mystery, and the corporation responsible has been for the most part successful in sweeping so much of this epic mess under the rug assisted by a complicit media with the collective attention span of a cocaine-addled goldfish.  To say it’s maddening is an understatement of oil plumed proportions.

Eight months later I can still get in touch with the anger and frustration I felt then, and I hope you can too.  Because we’ve got work to do, suggested by my friend and fellow NBN member, bird blogger and Audubon staffer David of Search and Serendipity.

During the 2010 lame-duck congressional session, the U.S. Senate should pass legislation dedicating Deepwater Horizon disaster Clean Water Act (CWA) penalties to environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast.  Without Senate action, billions of penalty dollars will likely disappear into the federal treasury and never reach the Gulf Coast. But clearly, this money should be used for environmental restoration in the region that was most directly affected by the oil disaster.

Congress comes back this week for the short lame-duck session.  They failed to pass a oil spill bill before the election, and if they don’t do it during lame duck, it’s not likely to happen next year, or the year after, which would mean that they failed to address the biggest marine oil disaster in our history.  Dwell on that.

They will have done nothing to hold BP legally accountable for the environmental destruction they’ve wrought.  Nothing for the ecosystems.  Nothing for the threatened and endangered species.  Nothing for those of us who care about them.

Without adequate funding to begin addressing the oil disaster and a host of other challenges, the United States’ great Gulf Coast will continue to decline.  Please join us in calling on U.S. Senators to dedicate CWA penalties to environmental restoration of the Gulf Coast during this year’s lame-duck session. Again, if it doesn’t happen now, it probably won’t happen at all. And that failure would compound the disaster for birds, other wildlife, and millions of people across the country.

What can you do?

Blog about the spill bill, encouraging their readers to contact their Senators too.  Get creative – blog about Gulf Coast species, habitats, communities, and personal experiences. Why does this matter to them and their communities? Make connections between their communities and the Gulf Coast, perhaps by featuring migratory birds or river systems or industries. Use photos to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the region and illustrate what’s at stake.  And when you’re doing it, use the badge to the left. Let’s see if we can take this thing beyond the NBN.  The idea is that a critical mass of us on the NBN can post this week on the subject, encouraging our readers and other bloggers to do something.

-Contact your Senators (this makes it easy — sample letter, automatic delivery to Senators)

And here are some resources to help inform those posts and letters:

Spill bill fact sheet:

White House recovery plan, which called on Congress to set aside penalty money for restoration:

Gulf states poll results, which show very high support for these measures among Gulf Coast voters:

And this page on the Audubon site, with ways to help, including ideas for writing letters to the editor:
– and most of the other national and regional environmental groups are running similar campaigns right now.

So can we do this?  Can we use the power of the NBN and the collective blogosphere to encourage the right thing?

Audubon and dozens of other environmental groups (NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, EDF, NWF, Ocean Conservancy, Pew, etc., etc.) are engaged in a major collaborative effort to mobilize citizens and motivate lawmakers to get this done.  There are ad campaigns, fly-ins, lobby days, phone drives, letter drives, media blitzes, etc.  We’re not capable of all that of course, we’re just bloggers, many of us individually toiling for pittance of traffic.  But collectively, we’re something bigger.  Collectively, we reach hundreds of thousands, who reach millions, who reach the people who can do what needs to be done.

As the NBN, we have the ability to reach beyond our individual stature and maybe, just maybe, instigate something productive