Posts Tagged ‘Oil Spill’

Revisiting the Gulf Coast

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the tragic loss of life and resources associated with the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Although the oil stopped flowing into the Gulf waters last July, the impacts of the disaster are far reaching, and will persist for years to come.

Young Crabber - Grand Isle, LA


When we visited the local communities last Summer, we heard a variety of opinions and perspectives and we brought these together through blog posts, video interviews, and photography that captured the up-close and raw stories of affected communities.  On Earth Day, Friday, April 22, I will be returning to the coast to check back in on the coastal communities and provide additional documentation on the ongoing impacts along the coast.

If you are able to make a donation today to help the work, it would be greatly appreciated.  Your support helps our ongoing documentary efforts and allows us to bring these stories to you in a personal, authentic way.  Please consider making a donation using the button below, and follow along with us here on the blog, on YouTube, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Thank you so much.


Photo: Terrell Clark


04 2011

What Is The True Cost Of The BP Oil Spill?

What Is The True Cost Of The BP Oil Spill?
An Interactive Panel Discussion

Thursday, April 14, 2011, 6:30pm – Hub Atlanta

Spirit Hub Atlanta Invite

Followed by a Photo Exhibit Reception with Photographer Terrell Clark

Presented by Spirit of the Gulf Coast
in partnership with Hub Atlanta

Topics Include:
Grand Isle Young Crabber- Hidden costs of the oil spill
- Why is this story still important?
- Is convenience more important than conscience?
- Costs of consumer choices
- Connections with Libya and Japan crises
- What can we do to help?

Panel Participants:
– Beth Bond – Editor,
– Brandon Sutton – Expedition Organizer, Spirit of the Gulf Coast
– Rob Del Bueno – Managing Partner, Southern Green Industries

Moderated by Jim Hackler, The Urbane Environmentalist

Free for Hub members – $10 suggested donation for non-members
Wine & light hors d’oeuvres included

Click here for Tickets

Can’t make the event, but want to experience it online?

Click here to watch it live, or view it at your leisure afterward.

Proceeds from exhibit sales, live broadcast, and video downloads will help fund ongoing documentary work
along the Gulf Coast in April, 2011

Hub Atlanta – 1375 Spring St. (@17th) – Atlanta, Ga. 30309

For Additional Information, contact:
Brandon Sutton | | 404.391.7370

Photos by Terrell Clark –


03 2011

Work on the Gulf Coast Continues

We are approaching the 1-year anniversary of the blowout on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig that resulted in an unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Although this is not an issue that is talked about much outside the coast these days, its impacts are far from over. 

Dolphin Skull on Navarre BeachIn the past few months, we have continued to connect with people in local communities to stay abreast of what is going on along the coast.  During the UGA Oil Spill Symposium in January, I met a local resident from the Florida panhandle who is steadfast in updating her network on the latest developments and she has graciously included me in her outreach.  I also recently connected with Simone Lipscomb, a photographer that has been documenting the impact on wildlife along the coast. She has posted some incredible images as well as some stark reminders of just how serious this issue continues to be.  Check out her photos here and her blog here

Article after article are emerging that highlight just how far-reaching the impacts of the spill continue to be.  Here are some of the articles that have come out recently that serve to remind us what coastal residents are still dealing with:

  • Article on the potential for health impacts from evaporated oil
  • WKRG- Mobile video interview with Dr. Samantha Joye from UGA discussing her research and the assertion that a considerable amount of oil remains in the system
  • Red And Black in-depth article on Dr. Joye discussing how she became interested in marine science and her experience researching the BP oil spill
  • Pensacola News Journal Article on the large tar mat off Perdido Key in Florida
  • Simone Lipscomb blog entry from March 4, 2011 documenting ongoing presence of oil in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
  • Recently recorded video with Lori Bosarge from Coden, Alabama describing her health problems she blames on the oil spill.  Lori was featured in our documentary film last Fall.
  • Video interview with me by the Our Revolution team that’s on a road trip ‘discovering social good’


These are just a few in a consistent stream of stories about impacts such as greatly increased dolphin mortality, large areas of oil and tar mats continuing to wash up on beaches, and perhaps most disturbing, reports of locals who believe they are suffering from serious health impacts from the spill. And of course, this all plays into the confidence of people that would normally be visiting the coast.  As we come up on the 1-year anniversary of the spill, we are also approaching the high tourism season along the Gulf coast.  Time will tell if this season will provide some relief to the businesses that managed to survive the spill and the winter months.  This is perhaps the biggest conundrum.  Everyone wants this to be over so they can return to their lives as they were before the spill.  Unfortunately, it appears that ‘back to normal’ is not where we are today.  

Oil Spill Commission ReportEver curious, I recently read the report from the President’s Oil Spill Commission, and there were some key takeaways that are worth exploring.  I found the report to be quite a thorough and balanced view of the offshore drilling industry accompanied by some very clear recommendations for safety and regulatory enhancements that would help prevent this kind of disaster in the future. 

Rather than attempt to recap the entire report here, I encourage anyone interested in learning more about the disaster and the root causes of the accident to read it for themselves.  However, I will say that a critical point made is that there is urgent action that needs to be taken on the commission’s recommendations at the level of the Administration, Congress, and the Oil Industry.  Absent major changes to the system, we risk facing this same devastating scenario all over again should another blowout occur. I believe the people and wildlife along the coast that have suffered so much as a result of this disaster deserve the nation’s attention in this matter.  In the concluding paragraph from the report, this point is poignantly made:

“This Commission proposes in this report a series of recommendations that will enable the country and the oil and gas industry to move forward on this one critical element of U.S. energy policy: continuing, safe, responsible offshore oil drilling to meet our nation’s energy demands over the next decade and beyond. Our message is clear: both government and industry must make dramatic changes to establish the high level of safety in drilling operations on the outer continental shelf that the American public has the right to expect and to demand. It is now incumbent upon the Congress, the executive branch, and the oil and gas industry to take the necessary steps. Respect for the 11 lives lost on that tragic day last April requires no less.”

There are no quick fixes to this situation, but to throw our arms up in the air because it’s too hard, or to pretend the problems do not exist is irresponsible and disrespectful to those whose lives hang in the balance, and especially those lives already lost. We must not forget the importance of making meaningful changes to the industry if we are going to continue to rely on these resources to meet our energy needs.

I encourage everyone to continue to monitor this story and not let it fade into obscurity.  We have work to do, and everyone has a role to play.  If you need some ideas on what you can do, visit the Taking Action page of our site.  Most of all though, continue to ask questions.  Dig beneath the surface chatter and the headlines and ask the tough questions before drawing your own conclusions.  Then, engage others on the issue and help them understand why this is important.  Just don’t forget what happened here.  To do so would be a slight to the entire Gulf coast.


Top Photo: Navarre Beach, January 2011, photo by Brandon Sutton
Bottom Photo: Cover of the Oil Spill Commission Report


03 2011

UGA Gulf Oil Spill Symposium Recap

On Wednesday, January 26, 2011, UGA – Georgia Sea Grant hosted a unique Symposium on the Gulf Oil Spill called Building Bridges in Crisis. The goal was to bring together members of the Scientific community, Government, Media, BP, and representatives from local sectors impacted in an effort to openly discuss the oil spill response and how the aforementioned groups can work together more effectively in times of crisis.  There was certainly a good amount of debate and frank discussion, which was clearly needed in order to make progress so that the next crisis can be more effectively coordinated.

UGA Gulf Oil Spill Symposium - Scientific Synergies Panel
One of the key takeaways was that despite the fact that we might not see stories of the oil spill in the media much anymore, the event itself is most certainly not over.  There is considerable impact to the system that is being analyzed now in an attempt to determine what potential long-term implications may exist for the food web, the water, and even public health.  As Dr. Samantha Joye noted, ‘This oil spill is not over. It will be decades, I think, until we really understand the true impacts of the spill on the system.’

Highlights from the Symposium can be viewed in the video below (if you can’t see the video, click here)

YouTube Preview Image
Another clear theme was the fact that there was tremendous impact on the people of the Gulf Coast both economically and emotionally.  The closure of the fisheries and the overall national attitude toward Gulf seafood and recreation has taken a tremendous toll on local businesses that rely on the confidence of visitors and seafood consumers for their livelihood. As Herb Malone, Executive Director of Tourism for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach reminded us, ‘This happened to us at the worst time of the year, on the eve of our high season’ and LaDon Swann from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium stated ‘My number one concern is that great damage to the human side of the equation is going to be forgotten in the long term.’

There was also much discussion on the impact the media had on the situation and how the constant barrage of news reports affected the region’s tourism industry. And social media wasn’t immune to criticism either.  Interestingly, although there were many comments about the adverse impact of speculation and misinformation that were present in various social media channels, representatives from the US Coast Guard and NOAA were upbeat about its potential to help get information out to the public.  Both the USCG and NOAA utilized the web to communicate important information throughout this event. Click here for a short video where they describe how they used social media during the spill.

More videos can be found on our YouTube channel, including a deeper look at the Scientific discussion and an interview with Dr. Samantha Joye. For my recap of Sylvia Earle’s Keynote speech on Tuesday 1.25.11, click here.

Photo: Scientific Synergies Panel


02 2011