More Drilling = More Oil Disasters

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In the midst of the 7th year Memorial of the BP Oil Drilling Disaster, the Bureau Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is hosting public hearings in the five Gulf state for 2018 GOM Draft Supplemental EIS.  BOEM's 2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing Program proposes to lease over 70 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico so that oil and gas companies can drill up to 9.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent over the next 70 years.  BOEM's proposal minimizes the environmental impact and costs associated with catastrophic spills and does not sufficiently justify the need for new leasing in the Gulf in light of emerging renewable energy markets and the seriousness of the climate change.

Last year, concerned citizens across the five Gulf states joined the national Keep It In the Ground and No New Leases campaigns to halt new oil and gas extraction on our land and water.  As a result of national efforts, the Obama Administration removed the Atlantic and the Artic from the Oil and Gas Leasing Program leaving future oil and gas exploration to concentrate in the Gulf of Mexico.  This year BOEM is moving forward with the program and is getting ready to sell off our Gulf to the highest bidder.  But before they do, the public has one more chance to comment on the EIS

The 2018 GOM Draft Supplemental EIS contains analyses of the potential environmental impacts that could result from a proposed region-wide lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, including preliminary results of new air quality modelling. The preliminary results have not yet been subject to review. BOEM is interested in comments regarding the modelling and analysis. The Supplemental EIS is expected to be used to inform decisions on proposed Lease Sales 250 and 251, as scheduled in the 2017‑2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing:  Proposed Final Program (Five-Year Program). The analyses may also be applied and supplemented as necessary to inform decisions for each of the remaining proposed lease sales scheduled in the Five-Year Program.  

To learn more, citizens should attend the public hearing on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, Courtyard by Marriott, Gulfport Beachfront MS Hotel, 1600 East Beach Boulevard, Gulfport, Mississippi  39501.

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Join Steps Coalition and partners outside the Marriot at 4:00 pm for a press conference.  For more details about the conference, contact Jennifer Crosslin at jcrosslin@stepscoalition.org.

 

 

 

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Communities Have A Right To Know

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Photograph taken by local resident

Last June, a gas processing plant in Moss Point located within three miles of several neighborhoods exploded.  The gas processing plant is owned by BP Amoco and Enterprise Products, LLC.  It is one of the largest gas processing facilities in the nation with the capacity to process up to 1 billion cubic feet per day.  The Destin Pipeline (jointly owned by affiliates of Shell, Sonat, and BP Amoco) carries natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico directly to the plant, and then delivers the processed gas to five interstate pipelines.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured as a result of the explosion, but nearby residents were concerned about what they might be exposed to as a result of the explosion.  Though Jackson County Emergency Management did not notify or evacuate the surrounding neighborhoods, many were awaken in the middle of the night by the sound and sight of the explosion and decided to evacuate.

Unlike oil and chemical plants, gas processing plants are not required to report the list and quantity of hazard pollutants they release to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program.

The TRI Program was created as part of a response to several events that raised public concern about local preparedness for chemical emergencies and the availability of information on hazardous substances.

On December 4, 1984, a cloud of extremely toxic methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a Union Carbide Chemical plant in Bhopal, India. Thousands of people died that night and thousands more died later as a result of their exposure. Survivors continue to suffer with permanent disabilities. In 1985, a serious chemical release occurred at a similar plant in West Virginia.

In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to support and promote emergency planning and to provide the public with information about releases of toxic chemicals in their community. Section 313 of EPCRA established the Toxics Release Inventory.

The EPA is now considering a rule that adds natural gas processing plants to the TRI program.  Communities have until May 7, 2017 to submit their comments about the proposed rule.  The EPA provides the following recommendations for submitting a public comment:

A comment can express simple support or dissent for a regulatory action. However, a constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making.
 
These tips are meant to help the public submit comments that have an impact and help agency policy makers improve federal regulations. 
 
Read and understand the regulatory document you are commenting on 

Feel free to reach out to the agency with questions 

Be concise but support your claims   

Base your justification on sound reasoning, scientific evidence, and/or how you will be impacted 

Address trade-offs and opposing views in your comment 

There is no minimum or maximum length for an effective comment 

The comment process is not a vote – one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters

Click here to submit your comments.

To learn more about the health impacts of gas production, check out these resources.

Coming Clean Inc.

Mom's Clean Air Force

Environmental Integrity Project

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LIZZ WRIGHT: PAINTED SKY

Our partners at the Kellogg Foundation shared this incredible video Lizz Wright created of the song she wrote and performed for the National Day of Racial Healing. Hope you enjoy it!

 

 

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The People's Campaign For Solar

emailtopsolarbigger.png100% Renewable Energy Economy in Mississippi is Possible!

Mississippi has taken its first step toward a solar powered future with the passage of the net metering rule. Though it is a positive step in the right direction, there is much more we need to do to transition to 100% renewable energy (solar, wind and water). That is why Steps Coalition would like to invite you to be a part of a strategic planning initiative to build and advocate for a just transition in Mississippi.

REGISTER HERE

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Flooding and Development in Gulfport

Police barricades block off a flooded street in North GulfportAt the end of April, strong storms hit the city of Gulfport causing the mayor to declare a state of emergency. Over 140 homes flooded, and first responders, including two five-ton trucks and three swift water rescue teams, stayed busy rescuing people from homes and businesses. This was a strong storm, but the kind of storm we expect regularly in the Gulf. 

 Much of the flooding was predictable and avoidable. Unfortunately, the City of Gulfport has a history of dangerous developmental practices, including filling in wetlands. This practice allows the cheapest path for development, providing profits for developers at a huge cost to residents and first responders.  Gulfport relies on gravity drainage, but April’s rains showed the vulnerability of the city’s drainage and stormwater handling system. Existing wetlands need to be left in place in areas of the city where foreseeable flood risks are high.

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Mississippi Gulf Coast Citizens Join Hundreds for No New Leases Rally

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 On March 23rd, Mississippi Gulf Coast residents joined hundreds from across the region from Texas to Florida to oppose the sale of 43 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore drilling as part of a national effort to call for a just transition toward clean energy. The movement has had significant victories, including the recent win by Atlantic coast residents to protect their shore and the postponing of oil and gas auctions in Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Washington D.C.

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MS MIP: Where is the Accountability?

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 Mississippi will be receiving over $2 billion in the next 17 years as a result of fines, penalties, and damages from the BP Oil Drilling Disaster.  The money will be coming from different sources that have different requirements and priorities for how it can be used.  Recently, the state released the MS Multi-year Implementation Plan that identifies how the state will spend some of the RESTORE Act funding, specifically as it relates to economic recovery.

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Historic Call To End New Oil Drilling in the Gulf

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On March 23rd, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, artists, musicians, advocates, activists, land owners, EJ/front line/fence line community members, fisher folk, water defenders, land protectors, frack-fighters and lovers of all kind will encircle the Louisiana Superdome with standing in solidarity with each other, while putting forward our liberation declaration for a Gulf region powered by solar and wind energy, and a call for an end to new Gulf oil drilling leases.  Our goal is to stop the the U.S. Department of Interior's 3.23 lease sale of 42 million acres of the Gulf waters to the oil and gas industry, present a document calling for the development of clean energy infrastructure and a just transistion of the Gulf region away from fossil fuels, an end to new oil drilling leases in the GOM, and an immediate hiring of at least 1,000 workers to repair the 27,000 abandoned and leaking oil wells in the Gulf region.   

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Let's Help Pascagoula Citizens Fight For Clean Air

first_air_sample.jpgIn 2014, Steps Coalition was invited by a group of residents living in Cherokee subdivision to help support their organizing efforts to reduce their exposure to industrial pollution.  The subdivision is located near Bayou Casotte Industrial Complex in Pascagoula.  The complex houses the largest Chevron Refinery in the world, two sandblasting and paint operations, two chemical plants, and a BP processing plant and gas exporting facility.  The closest facility is about 500 feet away from a couple of houses in the neighborhood. Many people in the neighborhood are getting sick and the Cherokee Concerned Citizens believe their exposure to industrial pollution is the cause.

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What Brings Us to the Climate Justice Movement

 Paris_Delegation.jpgI had the opportunity to go to Paris as one of 30 delegates from the Gulf South Rising Movement.  We went to Paris with the goal of networking with other frontline communities across the globe, particularly the Global South, and exchanging stories of our respective struggles and triumphs in the fight for climate justice.  It was truly a life changing experience for me.  Not only did I have the pleasure of meeting climate justice activists from all over the world, but I also spent a week with some of the most passionate, talented, and conscientious climate activists in the Gulf region.

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Steps Coalition
610 Water Street, Biloxi, MS 39530
(228) 435-3113

Economic Justice | Environmental Justice | Affordable Housing | Preservation of Historical Communities | Human Rights