Hardball appearance today

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This afternoon I spoke again with Chris Matthews for MSNBC's Hardball about the Gulf oil disaster, how it is affecting our community, and how both BP and the federal government need to be doing more:


Letter from Bayou Texar Foundation

I received the following letter from the Bayou Texar Foundation concerning the idea of closing Bayou Texar boat ramps:

Dear Mayor Wiggins and Council members,

I am writing to you as the Secretary of the Bayou Texar Foundation as well as a representative for several of my waterfront neighbors. We are all gravely concerned about the possibility of oil in the waters of Bayou Texar, threatening the healthy estuary and the wildlife/sea life that is present. Over the last few years, we have seen our waterfront habitat increase in productivity. Rarely do you look out that you do not see osprey, herons, pelicans, kingfishers, and hundreds of bait fish and mullet. That being said, we need smart decisions about the protection and use of the bayou.

At a recent meeting, a discussion about oil on pleasure boats returning to port prompted a suggestion to close the City-owned boat ramps - two inside the bayou, the third just outside the mouth at the 17th Ave. viaduct. This seems akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and I don't think that we should punish the many for the sins of the few. A better approach might be to educate our citizens, many of whom are very responsible, with a campaign about the sensibility of boating through oil. Signage at the ramps, an "Oil Spill 101" if you will, might inform boaters that going outside Pensacola Pass when oil has been seen offshore is not good for the boat or for the inshore environment. Numbers could be provided for the vessel cleanup station, as well as for the boom movement during incoming tide. As we enter hurricane season (with a storm brewing at this moment), our residents need access to those ramps to be able to pull boats out and take them to safe harbor. We also need them regularly for boat maintenance, and many of us have paid the annual $25 fee for boat ramp access. It is also doubtful that the small pleasure boats launching at these ramps go as far as the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, perhaps the Coast Guard could issue "small and medium craft advisories" when oil is close to Pensacola Pass, discouraging boating in the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, there are some selfish boaters on the water, but I think most people are open to information about why it is a bad idea. We at least owe that chance to the good boaters of the area, but need to get the details about the boat cleaning need and facilities out to as many local residents as possible. This can be a joint City/County effort, as not all those using our ramps are City residents. I have spoken with Mayor Wiggins and my councilman, Larry Johnson, about further protection of the bayou, to supplement the boom strategy. The possibility of submerged oil floating under those booms is a valid concern, and it seems more and more that the best strategy is skimming both in the Gulf and in Pensacola Bay, long before any oil reaches the bayou. Please help keep the pressure on to provide more skimmers and better coordination between the eye in the sky and the skimmers on the water.

Thank you for your attention. I will be happy to discuss these ideas with any of you, or to work with Staff to design signage for the boat ramps. The Bayou Texar Foundation stands ready to assist in any way we can to protect our valuable waterway.


Eleanor Godwin
Secretary, Bayou Texar Foundation


Coastkeeper on dispersants

Monday, June 28, 2010

Please see the following message from Emerald Coastkeeper Chasidy Fisher Hobbs concerning the dispersants that EPA is allowing BP to use in response the oil in the Gulf:

I wrote to you yesterday about a plan to get dispersants off EPA's approved list of means of dealing with an oil spill. Write your letters TODAY! A postcard will do, just be sure it is hand written! Pass this email to everyone you know. Help us get 1 million letters to EPA by August 1st! Below is a sample letter. Feel free to modify it in any way you see fit. Definitely mail it to Lisa Jackson (address below). If you want to make more of a difference mail her the letter once per week. If you want an even greater impact, mail the letter to all you senators and representatives (don't know who yours are? Need an address? Go here: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml and here: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ (click on your state and then the name to get mailing address)

Lisa Jackson
USEPA Headquarters
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Mail Code: 1101A
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Lisa Jackson (or the name of your legislator):

I am gravely concerned about the use of dispersants and EPA's inability to stop BP from using them in the Gulf of Mexico. I implore you to amend the National Contingency Plan Product Schedule to include a process to delist products. Further, you must use this new process to delist, effective immediately, products that contain human health hazards and proprietary compounds, first and foremost dispersants. Fast-tracking this process is essential to the health of our Gulf, the workers on the Deepwater Horizon scene and all of the Gulf Coast residents and their visitors.

Your name
Your address


Other talking points you may or may not like to add:

1) The use of dispersants has criminally escalated the mortality to marine life from the oil release in the Gulf.

2) The use of dispersants has grievously complicated the clean-up of the oil in the Gulf region.

3) The use of dispersants has shamefully magnified the intergenerational harm of this oil catastrophe.

4) The use of dispersants has injuriously impacted public health and worker safety in the region.

Chasidy Fisher Hobbs
Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc.
o: 850-429-8422


More on the Jones Act

Lynn Bannister, the Director of Outreach for Senator Bill Nelson, shared the following link with me about the Jones Act and how it impacts response efforts:



Boat access to bayous

Concerning boats entering and leaving Bayou Texar as well as most waterways in Escambia County, the number to call regarding the moving of booms to allow access is 850-736-2261.

Please e-mail me at ljohnson@ci.pensacola.fl.us and let me know how your experience with this number is and the if the operation works.


Skimmer boats

I've written Carol Browner, the President's top environmental adviser, to tell her and the administration how badly we need skimming boats in the Gulf of Mexico:

Ms. Browner,

I have heard that 13 other countries including the Dutch, have offered us the use of skimming boats. Could you let me know where the White House is on this issue.

These boats need to be in the Gulf of Mexico dealing with the oil there, not in our inland waterways.

There is oil in Pensacola Bay as I write.

Also could you update me on the status of waiving the Jones Act?

Thank you for your assistance.

Larry B. Johnson
City Councilman - District 4


Appearance on Hardball

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I appeared this afternoon on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

One correction: Toward the end where I said "gallons" I meant "barrels."


Bayou Texar partially closed

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bayou Texar is now triple boomed and the mouth of the bayou is being closed when the tide starts in (flow) and opened back up when it starts out (ebb).

Boats needing to travel in and out of the bayou during closures can call 850.736.2261.

Boom has also been placed between the Port of Pensacola and Muscogee Wharf near the Project Greenshores Phase II area.


Senators to BP: cough up $20 billion advance

Please see the following release from Senator Bill Nelson's office:

In advance of the president’s trip to Florida’s Panhandle tomorrow, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson today continued to insist that BP and the White House take steps to keep taxpayers from having to foot the bill for the massive cleanup. The Florida Democrat also stressed that now is the time for the administration to launch a full-scale effort to get the U.S. off its dependence on oil.

Nelson was in Pensacola today for a first-hand look at the impact the oil spill is having on the Panhandle region. President Obama is due to be there tonight and tomorrow as he responds to growing concerns there over the spill. The state’s tourism and commercial fishing industries already are reeling.

To help, Nelson and a number of his Senate Democratic colleagues released a letter they wrote to BP’s boss Tony Hayward asking that he set up a trust fund with a $20 billion advance from the oil behemoth “as an act of good faith and as a first step toward ensuring that there will be no delay in payments or attempt to evade responsibility for damages.”

“The costs associated with the spill are being vastly underestimated by both BP as well as some government officials,” Nelson said today. “We have to fight to ensure that it’s BP, not the taxpayers, bearing the financial brunt of this disaster.”

From the outset, Nelson has pushed to hold BP accountable. He filed legislation to raise the liability the company faced for economic and environmental damages from $75 million to $10 billion. As the spill grew, he said that $10 billion might not even be enough, asserting that BP should be prepared to pay an unlimited amount.

Over the past few weeks, Nelson also has been a vocal critic of the handling of the spill, calling repeatedly for control of cleanup operations to be placed under the supervision of a military-like command and control operation.

Today, while in Pensacola, Nelson said it was time for Obama to step out front – like President Kennedy did in sending Americans to the moon – to launch a full-blown initiative to free

the U.S. from its dependence on oil. “If ever there was a time, this is it,” Nelson said.

For years, the Senator has opposed drilling for oil off Florida’s coast “for reasons,” he said, “are exemplified by this abominable tragedy.”


Street closures

Please see the following information from the Pensacola Police Department:

The following roads will be closed from 5 to 9 p.m. today within the city limits of Pensacola for the Presidential visit: Garden Street to Alcaniz Street and Interstate 110 entrances and exits south of Cervantes Street.

From 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, the following streets will be closed: Pensacola Bay Bridge, Gregory Street from the bridge to I110, I110 entrances and exits south of Cervantes Street, and Garden Street from Alcaniz Street through the city limits.


News appearances about BP oil disaster

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I recently did interviews with CBS 4 in Miami and FOX News about how the BP oil disaster is affecting our beautiful beaches here in Pensacola:


Questioning BP

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Below are a few clips from last Thursday's City Council meeting where BP representatives showed up to answer questions. I had a few.


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