The Steps Coalition formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and has since been involved in grass roots community and regional efforts to rebuild a healthy, sustainable, and equitable Gulf Coast. Since the BP Oil Spill Disaster in 2005, Steps has joined local and regional efforts to not only address equity in recovery but also to educate and empower communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast about the realities of the climate crisis. Our communities have seen first hand the devastating impact caused by increased storms and flooding as a result of climate change, the negligence of the oil and gas industry, and misguided investments or the lack thereof that threaten the sustainability of our communities.
Locally, Steps works with our partners to raise awareness about the inequity in recovery post Katrina and BP and to advocate for structural changes that address these issues. In 2016, Steps will be working with our partners to advocate for structural changes in climate mitigation for housing. In addition, Steps will be working with communities along the coast to educate and empower residents to actively engage in the public participation processes of the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. This new rule creates a unique opportunity for residents to learn more about how place matters and how they can engage in the process to make improvements to create healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities.
Steps is also member of the Mississippi Environment Focus Group — an informal coalition of 19 nonprofit organizations working together to actively engage in the public processes of the BP Oil Spill Restoration and Recovery. The group has identified 14 guiding principles to help decision-makers to create a transparent and accountable decision-making process and commit to doing no harm to natural resources as the spend down the billions of recovery dollars in the next two decades. As part of our advocacy campaign, members of the focus group regularly meet with decision makers, submit articles in the Mississippi Business Journal (check out latest here), and submit public comments throughout the planning and implementation process.
As part of our regional work, Steps is a member of the Gulf Future Coalition and the Gulf South Rising Movement. The Gulf Future Coalition was created shortly after the BP oil disaster of 2010 with a mission of providing the long-term support needed to protect the environment and the distinct culture of the Gulf Coast for future generations.
On October 4-6, 2010, ninety-five people representing forty-six communities, local, regional, national and international environmental, social justice, and fishermen groups met at the Beckwith Camp and Conference Center on Weeks Bay, Alabama. Together, we drafted the following set of goals and principles that we believe must guide the recovery and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, our coast and our communities in the wake of the BP drilling disaster.
The oil is still here and so are we. The diverse communities that live, work, and derive benefit from the Gulf call on government to take responsibility to:
- Make coastal communities whole again;
- Commit to cleaning up and restoring the Gulf;
- Hold BP accountable;
- Ensure local participation in decision-making;
- Conduct short and long-term monitoring; and
- Invest in economic opportunities to support locally-driven, sustainable recovery that restores and enhances America’s Gulf coast.
The coalition organized to help pass the RESTORE Act and educate communities along the coast about the recovery process. Because of the RESTORE Act, 80% of the oil spill fines that would have gone to the federal government are now going directly to the affected Gulf States.
The Gulf Future Coalition continues to carry out its mission to restore, protect, and defend communities, ecosystems, and culture. The work is carried out through four committees: 1) organizing; 2) research and policy; 3) arts and culture; 4) coordinating committee. Each of the committees are currently developing strategic plans for 2016. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Gulf Future Coalition and ways you can get involved.
Commemorating BP Oil Spill Disaster 5 Years Later
Steps Coalition organized a group of local residents to attend The Gulf Remembers, 5 Year Observances: A Regional Day of Action in Houston, TX at the BP headquarters. About 100 people from the five Gulf States traveled to Houston, Texas on April 20, 2015 for a day of action. Gulf Coast residents, fisherfolk, environmental activists, and artists gathered at BP headquarters to deliver a message:
The oil is still here and so are we – 5 years later, we still suffer from our loss and BP still lies. Communities across the Gulf Coast are uniting together to restore, protect and defend our nation’s unique Gulf Coast cultures and ecosystems and hold BP accountable. We demand truth and we advocate for our region to move towards a just transition for a sustainable and equitable Gulf Future.
BP Settlement in Principle
On July 20, 2015, BP, the Department of Justice, and the Gulf States announced they had reached an agreement in principle to settle all federal and state claims against BP. $18.732 billion dollars will be paid out to the Gulf States over the next 15-17 years
The settlement will bring approximately $1.5 billion in additional relief to Mississippi over the next 17 years. Combined with $659 million in early funding, Mississippi is receiving a total of nearly $2.2 billion in compensation. To learn more about the Gulf Recovery process in Mississippi, visit http://www.restore.ms
Upcoming Events and Actions
The public comment period for the BP Settlement in Principle ended December 4, 2015. Gulf Future Coalition submitted joint public comments. Stay tuned for more information and Gulf Future Coalition’s response to the settlement and opportunities to get involved.
A Year of Resistance: Gulf South Rising
Gulf South Rising (GSR) is a coordinated regional movement created to highlight the impact of the global climate crisis on the Gulf South region (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida). Through collaborative actions and events around strategic dates in 2015, like the 5-year commemoration of the BP Oil Crisis and the 10-year commemoration of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, GSR demands a just transition away from extractive industries, discriminatory policies, and unjust practices that hinder equitable disaster recovery and impede the development of sustainable communities.
Goals of Movement
- Build regional movement infrastructure
- Convene frontline communities around collective healing and ecological equity
- Advance regional efforts of indigenous tribal and land sovereignty
- Shift the regional narrative from resilience to resistance
Katrina 10 Commemoration: Steps Coalition organized the Katrina 10 Commemoration event as part of the Gulf South Rising movement. On August 24, 2015 along with our partners we hosted a Community Potluck Dinner and Exhibit. More than 100 people joined us as we commemorated Katrina 10 lifting up the stories about the inequitable recovery efforts, the organizing success of community organizations and leaders, and the ongoing process of recovery. Stayed tuned for the video.
COP21: Gulf South Rising Delegation to Paris, France November 30, 2015 through December 6, 2015: One of our staff was selected to serve as a delegate for the Gulf South Rising Movement. Thirty individuals across the five Gulf states were selected to represent the Gulf South at the COP 21 Conference. The goals of Gulf South Rising in Paris are:1) To offer stories of Gulf South communities around the impacts of climate change to formal and informal spaces at the COP21; 2) To capture stories of Global South communities impacted by climate change to Gulf South; 3) To bring back stories from communities of the Global South and lessons learned from attending CoP21 to your Gulf South community.