Coastal Desk

BP Oil Spill
1:50 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

BP Ends Oil Spill Cleanup In Gulf, Except For Louisiana

BP is scaling back its cleanup efforts from the Deepwater Horizon oilspill in areas outside Louisiana. Here, a photo from last September shows alluvial clay and tar mats on the shore of Elmer's Island, in Jefferson Parish, La.
Gerald Herbert AP

BP is ending its cleanup of the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in three Gulf Coast states this month, leaving Louisiana as the only state with ongoing cleanup linked to the company's Deepwater Horizon Response effort. Reports of oil sightings in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida will soon be the U.S. Coast Guard's responsibility to investigate.

For NPR's Newscast unit, Debbie Elliott reports:

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
12:33 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Getting Involved

Kevin Gotham.
Credit Tulane University

After interviewing nearly 20 people involved in the coastal restoration process and program — from scientists and engineers, to public officials leading agencies — one of the surprising findings was the consensus among them that people living inside these levees — who live in the most threatened spot in North America due to sea level rise, subsidence and coastal land loss — don’t seem to be fully engaged or aware of just how precarious their situation is.

So, is this common?

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
12:26 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Measuring The River

The Bonnet Carré Spillway when it was opened in 2008. Scientists now say much of the sediment and water the Mississippi River carries into Louisiana never makes it to the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit Jason Saul / WWNO

If there is one underlying justification for Louisiana’s $50 billion Master Plan for coastal restoration, it’s this: We actually have a chance to prevent Southeast Louisiana from drowning in the Gulf, because the Mississippi River carries the sediment necessary to keep pace with sea level rise.

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Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities
3:33 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Baton Rouge's Corroded, Overpolluting Neighbor: Exxon Mobil

An evening view of the Exxon Mobil oil refinery complex in Baton Rouge, La.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:50 am

If you stand in front of Almena and Sidney Poray's house in Baton Rouge, La., and look straight down the street, past the other houses and the shade trees, you see more than a dozen plumes of exhaust in various hues of gray and white.

"That's something you see every day, the same thing if not more," says Almena Poray. "Sometimes it's a darker gray; sometimes it's a black smoke coming out."

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:45 am
Mon May 27, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Budgeting The River

The Mississippi River basin with major tributaries and state boundaries. The width of a river indicates its mean water discharge.
USGS

Let’s imagine it is the Spring of 2025, and Louisiana is preparing to open three diversions on the lower Mississippi so fresh water and sediment can reach wetlands struggling to stay ahead of sea level rise.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
6:21 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Part One

We've collected the first five episodes of our ongoing environmental series The Louisiana Coast: Last Call into one podcast.

You can play the stories on this page, right click on the player and select "Save As" to download it, or find all of our last call podcasts here:

iTunes
Other Players

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Environment
7:00 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Louisiana Wetlands Experts Exchanging Ideas At Vietnam Conference

Members of the America’s Wetland Foundation are in Vietnam this week to collaborate on river management. Dutch experts are also participating.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:45 am
Mon May 20, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — River Diversions

The Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Structure in 1999 and 2003. The structure part of a project that is attempting to reverse land loss and ecosystem degradation in the marshlands.
Credit NASA Earth Observatory

It’s almost impossible to find anyone in coastal Louisiana opposed to the idea of “coastal restoration.” Storms like Katrina, Gustav and Isaac have shown everyone the value of the marshes and swamps that once stood between them and the Gulf.

But when “restore” means turning things back to the way they once were, problems can arise.

The best-known example of that is the conflict over using river diversions.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:45 am
Fri May 17, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — The Master Plan

Construction of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier in Lake Borgne. The barrier is 1.8 miles long.
Credit Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

If you’ve been listening and reading along this week, by now you know the consensus among coastal experts is that New Orleans and southeast Louisiana are headed for an early grave before the end of the century.

Because of river levees and damage from oil and gas canals, the wetlands that once protected this city from the Gulf have been reduced by more than half. And now what’s left of this landmass is sinking, at the same time the Gulf is rising due to global warming.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:30 am
Thu May 16, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — How We Got This Way: Rising Seas, Sinking Land

A street submerged by water in Venice, La. in 2010.
Credit Jason Saul / WWNO

The clang of tide gauges throughout parts of southeast Louisiana aren’t from a science fiction movie, though they may make residents feel like they’re caught in one.

Those sounds tell the stories of rising tides along the Gulf Coast and melting glaciers in the Arctic. And they tell how scientists believe those two events, taking place thousands of miles apart, are the reasons why the Gulf of Mexico is on pace to submerge most of southeast Louisiana by the end of the century — if nothing is done.

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