I was a lurker for many years here at Daily Kos until the day the Deep Horizon oil rig exploded and ripped a gash into Mother Earth causing her blood to gush into the Gulf of Mexico. Since that day I have spent my time on Daily Kos deeply immersed in the Mothership and her child ROV's finding comfort and commiseration with people who have shown me that America will always have hope as long as such people exist.
I have watched with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart as wildlife came out of the ocean covered in oil and struggling for life. The loss of every one of the creatures who have died in this unparalleled disaster leaves us poorer and sadder. I have watched as the fishermen and oystermen's livelihoods have been destroyed and the Gulf Coast way of life decimated.
Below the jump you will find a list of organizations that I have been compiling for months. Please consider donating or volunteering to help support these organizations who spend their lives trying to help people, wildlife and even family pets recover from disaster. Thank you.
Gulf residents struggle in oil-spill aftermath
By KEVIN McGILL and TOM BREEN (Associated Press)
Published: August 24, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - The oil has stopped flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, and that should be a relief. But with fewer cleanup jobs to be had, many of the people hit hardest by the huge spill are struggling as badly as ever.
Boat captains and deckhands who managed to put food on the table over the summer because they got hired by BP to skim the oil are being dropped from the payroll while huge swaths of the Gulf remain off-limits to those who haul in shrimp, oysters and other seafood.
Now, just when with the environmental and engineering crisis is easing, charities providing food to coastal communities have run out of money, homeless shelters are filling up with men thrown out of work by the spill, and demand for drug and alcohol counseling is up.
In yet another source of anxiety for fishermen and others, the federal government took over the handling of oil-spill damage claims from BP on Monday, and many people along the Gulf are waiting to see how Obama administration appointee Kenneth Feinberg administers the $20 billion victims compensation fund set up by the company.
Already, there are indications he intends to be stricter than BP in some cases when it comes to handing out checks to individuals and businesses.
The oil company has spent more than $6.1 billion so far in the spill's aftermath, a figure that includes everything from cleaning beaches and drilling relief wells to paying individual claims and giving grants to local governments. BP has paid $399 million to individuals and businesses.
One of the commenters in this diary told us about this. They're selling necklaces that contain a small amount of gulf oil and t-shirts printed with ink and gulf oil. A little reminder of what we've done. $5.00 from each purchase will go directly to the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, National Wildlife Federation or the National Audubon Society to aid the Gulf Oil Clean Up efforts. You get to choose which charity your donation goes to.
# Become a Manatee-Safe Boater: Collisions with boats are the leading cause of manatee deaths. Boat owners can help reduce the risk of hitting manatees by avoiding, as much as possible, the coastal waters of Florida and surrounding manatee habitats. They should respect speed limits in Manatee Zones, use propeller guards on small motorboats, and donate to manatee protection by purchasing a manatee decal when registering for boating licenses.
Boaters should also remember to wear polarized sunglasses, which will help you see below the water's surface; stay in deep water channels and follow all posted boat speed regulations; and avoid boating over shallow seagrass beds, where manatees might be feeding.
If you see a manatee when operating a powerboat, remember to maintain a safe distance of at least 50 feet and cut your motor if you are nearby.
Tweet, blog, update
The National Wildlife Federation is asking for support from those who aren’t able to volunteer or donate by spreading their cause via social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
For example, they are asking Twitter users to tweet and retweet messages with the #NWF tag. There is a Facebook fan page, and users can support the Wildlife Federation by setting up a "birthday cause." Instead of getting presents from friends, you can direct them to donate to the organization of choice.
The organization also has created web banners that blog users can embed on their sites that will take readers to the wildlife federation website, which urges readers to volunteer or donate.
Each $10 donation will go toward dispatching teams to monitor the coast for wildlife hurt by the spill, restoring nesting grounds, public education and policy work.
Some tips from the Turtle Foundation on how we can all help:
# Avoid restaurants with turtle soup, turtle eggs or turtle meat on the menu. Report the relevant restaurants to the Turtle Foundation.
# Do not buy any products made from turtles such as tortoiseshell or similar souvenirs.
# Do not disturb nesting turtles by your presence, noise or lights.
# Avoid hotels that have destroyed beaches which have been used by the turtles for nesting.
# Divers: Don´t touch – riding turtles is no fun.
# Never toss cigarette butts or plastic bags into the sea. Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish (the favorite dish of some species); cigarette butts swell in the stomach.
# Keep yourself informed and stay up-to-date for example by visiting the various internet pages about turtles.
# Report Manatees in Trouble: If you see an injured, dead, harassed, tagged, or orphaned manatee, contact The FFWCC at its manatee hotline: 1-888-404-FWCC, *FWC on your cellular phone, or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.
To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401.
To discuss oil related damage, please call 1-800-440-0858.
To report oiled shoreline or to request volunteer information, please call 1-866-448-5816
Put your needlecraft talents to good use by supplying the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies with knitted/crocheted or sewn towels to aid in their efforts in caring for and cleaning oiled marine mammals.
One New Orleans jeweler is giving 25% of the proceeds of one of their pendants to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. That's a great idea!
In Bradenton, FL, two local restaurants are joining a nationwide campaign to raise money for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.
Text "COAST" to 50555 to donate $10 to The Nature Conservancy providing long term recovery for the habitats of the Gulf.
Text "UNITED" to 50555 to donate $10 to United Way, who are providing emergency assistance to the people of the Gulf.
To submit alternative response technology, services or products: 281.366.5511
To submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system: 281.366.5511
To contact the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center: 985.902.5231
Donate $10 or more to The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and The International Bird Rescue Research Center, get the confirmation for your donation and receive one of the beautiful sketchcards available on this site
Ten Solutions to Save at the Pump
- Employer Commute and Flexwork Programs. Major employers are saving employees billions in travel costs. Employers sponsor ride sharing, last mile shuttles from transit, and guaranteed ride homes. Some employers have web sites and lunch-and-learns to help employees in the same zip codes match-up for car pooling. 57 million Americans work at home, at least part-time, with the help of flexwork programs. Employer programs have helped with reduced car ownership.
- Public Transit. Americans made 11 billion trips on U.S. transit in 2008, a 50-year record. Use has dropped some due to transit operators being forced to cut some routes and remove buses as the recession drove down local sales tax revenues needed for public transit. Americans are eager for more and better transit.
- Walk. On an average we take 4 car trips daily, compared to 2 in Europe. Sometimes 1 of those 4 trips can be a pleasant walk to market, neighbors, or school event.
- Safe Routes. Thousands of communities across the nation are showing us how to safely walk to school, community centers, and to public transit. Route maps go on line, pot holes get fixed, sidewalks repaired, danger spots eliminated, and signs displayed. Walk to School Days are on the increase.
- One Car Households. The average suburban U.S. household has two vehicles. Some more. The average urban U.S. household has one vehicle. More American families and roommates are going from three cars to two cars to one car.
- Sharing the Gas Miser. Households with 2 or more vehicles increasingly share cars, putting the most miles on the fuel miser as the gas guzzler stays parked more often. My wife and I share the hybrid, when not using transit, and leave the other car parked 6 days per week.
- Make your next Car a Fuel Miser. You now have a wide-range of car choices that get over 30 miles per gallon. There is no reason to settle for less when you buy or lease a fuel-efficient sedan, hatchback, even SUV, turbo diesel, CNG, or hybrid car. Top 10 Cars With Lowest Carbon Footprint
- Order an Electric Car which is ideal for many who live in a city where 100-mile range is rarely an issue, and where transit, car sharing, and car rental are also available. The average U.S. suburban household has two vehicles, so the EV could be ideal as one of those two. Top 10 Electric Car Makers
- Car Sharing. In 600 global cities, cars can be used by the hour. Car sharing is popular with individuals and fleets. At many university and colleges, students with good grades can participate at age 18. Add transit and bicycling and many students live car free.
- Smart Apps for Smart Travel. Internet savvy people now use Google Maps, 511, car share apps, and smart phone GPS apps to compare car directions and time with public transit directions and time. With a few clicks on a social network a shared ride is arranged, or a shared car reserved. In the old millennium we got everywhere by solo driving in gridlock. In the new millennium we plan and use a mix of car driving, transit, and other modes to save time and money.There are hundreds of ways to save at the pump, or avoid it all together. The above are a just a few as people shift from their only choice being driving a gas guzzler, to options that include ride sharing, car sharing, walking, bicycling, buses, and rail for some of their trips.
Ways you can help marine life from savethewhales.org
1. Volunteer with local community groups to stencil storm drains, Adopt A Beach, or monitor the water quality of local watersheds. Organize your classroom, school club, or organization to clean litter from rivers, creeks, estuaries, and beaches.Did you know? Storm water pollution (urban runoff) is the leading cause of water pollution nationwide.Pollutants such as motor oil, antifreeze, detergents, litter, paint, pesticides, pet waste, and copper (from brake pads) are flushed off streets and into storm drains which lead straight to rivers, creeks, and the oceans.
2. Participate in Save The Whales' letter writing campaigns with your classroom, club, or church group. Invite friends over for a "letter writing" party. Print letters from Save The Whales "Action Alert" section under the Take Action. One letter from an individual to a government official represents the opinion of hundreds of people. Letters are powerful tools of influence.
3. Cut up plastic six-pac rings before recycling or disposing them in the garbage. Thousands of birds, fish, and other marine creatures die needlessly from entanglement.
4.Pick up trash while walking in your neighborhoods. Participate in National Coastal Clean Up Day (September) www.coastforyou.org to prevent pollution in watersheds and storm drains. Did you know that? One of the most common sources of beach pollution is cigarette butts. They can take up to seven years to breakdown. Last year, over one million cigarette butts were removed by volunteers during National Coastal Clean Up Day.
5. Never release balloons outside as they can travel hundreds of miles and land in rivers, creeks, and oceans. Whales, dolphins and turtles can be killed by ingesting balloons mistaken for jellyfish. See Save The Whales "Balloon Alert" flyer in English and Spanish. Educate your schools or community businesses not to participate in balloon releases. A 60 foot sperm whale washed up dead from ingesting a balloon which blocked its stomach and caused it to starve.
6. Keep your car well maintained to prevent leaks onto roadways and driveways which cause water pollution. Carpool when possible, or ride a bike. Recycle used motor oil for free. Take hazardous waste such as paint, pesticides, and antifreeze to a hazardous waste site. Call 1-800- CLEAN-UP or visit www.cleanup.org for the free drop off location near you.
7. Never discard used fishing line and hooks in the water. This can entangle birds, fish, turtles, seals, and otters and cause the death of these animals.
8.Never dump anything in the street as it goes into the storm drains which travel straight to rivers, creeks, and ultimately the oceans without being cleaned. Did you know that? One quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of water. A drop of oil the size of a dime stuck on a sea otter can kill them. They die from hypothermia (freezing to death).
9.Recycle, Reuse and Reduce. Landfills across the nation are filling up with discarded items and refuse. Hazardous waste thrown in the garbage, ends up in landfills where it leeches into the soil and ground water causing contamination. Reduce your refuse by recycling, reusing and composting. Plant an organic garden free of pesticides.
10.Buy products that are environmentally friendly and support organic farming.
For those who want to volunteer. There is required training.
BP Spill Response Training (PEC/Premier Safety Management)
Click "See schedule" to see the class schedule & locations in PDF format.
"Thank you for your interest in participating in the clean-up effort of the recent BP oil spill. We, PEC, have been contracted by BP to conduct the BP Spill Response training for those employed to perform the clean-up as well as wildlife recovery groups, paraprofessionals, and local officials/emergency response who will be involved. This is a one-day (4 hour) general orientation class for the specific purpose of dealing with this oil spill. The course covers what to expect in the field, potentially dangerous environments, and overall health safety. This course does not include specific training on cleanup activities or the handling and care of/for oiled wildlife.
"Please take note that once you have completed this training we will not be able to assign you to any volunteer position or employment with BP. However, this training will be required for you to work or volunteer in all projects related to the oil spill. All volunteer efforts and employment opportunities are being coordinated by BP, volunteer organizations, and wildlife recovery groups. We are contracted by BP solely to provide the necessary and required training to anyone who will be involved in those efforts.
From The Audobon Society:
The best thing that citizens can do to prepare for the incumbent oil spill disaster is to stay calm and hope that the slick does not impact the coast line as harshly as predicted. Unfortunately, things don’t look well for the marine life and breeding bird populations along the Louisiana and Mississippi Coast because it is breeding season for many shore and sea birds. Several "Important Bird Areas," designated by Audubon and its partners for their essential habitat value to bird species lie within potentially-affected areas. Those under immediate threat include Chandeleur Islands IBA and Gulf Islands National Seashore IBA in Louisiana and Mississippi; and the Active Delta IBA in Louisiana, which includes Delta National Wildlife Refuge and Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area. We are encouraging folks to NOT run to the shoreline to capture oiled birds and to keep yourself, pets, and your family off of the beach. It is unsafe for humans to come into contact with crude oil, and larger shorebirds have the potential to inflect damage. Please leave these actions to the professionals. However, if you do come into contact with an oiled bird please call 1-866-557-1401. If you are interested in helping with the wildlife response effort, or the coastal bird survey program please Click HERE. . National Audubon is organizing efforts to compile volunteers on a national level. We will keep everyone posted on these efforts. Once again, please stay off the beaches until we know exactly where the oil will arrive. We are being inundated with phone calls for volunteer request, please use the link to submit your information.
10 Things You Can Do To Make A Difference To Marine Life
# First, accept that you are only able to control your actions and responses to changing conditions around you.
# Take responsibility for your actions in all things. It sounds simple but being accountable to yourself will help you make the necessary changes.
# Stop to consider the consequences of your actions (if I choose to do this, what will be the result?).
# Lead by example! If you can change, then it just might inspire others.
# Remember that one person can make a difference. Small accomplishments add up quicker then you might think. Remember, no matter what your economic standing, you can help save the environment and money at the same time. You the consumer drive the market; products are made because you buy them. If you buy products that are better for the environment it will become profitable for companies to respond to the demand for environmentally-friendly products. It really is that simple.
# Do you know what the number one thing you can do is to protect the ocean? Learn! Learn all you can about the threats facing the ocean and marine life. First and foremost, Global warming (Climate Change/Abrupt Climate Change) is the number one threat not only to marine life but to all of our ways of life as well. The debate is over. It is happening. Only the magnitude and details, such as whether we've reached a tipping point yet, remain. Now is the time to act. To learn all about Global Warming/Climate Change, what it really is, what very likely will happen, and what we can/should really do about it see our Global Warming Section and these videos » Global Climate Destabilization: How It All Ends and post your thoughts, suggestions, and questions.
# Read other resources on how to protect the ocean such as 50 Ways to Save the Ocean by David Helvarg, an excellent resource filled with information on what you can do to protect the ocean (that we used to add to this page) and Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea's Biodiversity by Michael E. Soule, Elliott A. Norse, and Larry B. Crowder of MCBI.
# Become a marine biologist—or better yet, a marine conservation biologist. This emerging field of marine biology is an important area of research needed to inform policy makers by providing evidence-based data that shows the ocean is in trouble and the solutions that are needed.
# Don't buy live saltwater fish caught in the wild for your aquarium. The fishing methods, such as cyaniding and dynamiting, for the live fish trade are horribly degrading to the marine environment. Hundreds of thousands of young and rare tropical reef fish die every year in aquariums in the US alone.
# If you must keep a saltwater tank, buy only Marine Aquarium Council certified fish to ensure your fish are sustainably caught or reared in captivity.
Write to President Obama and your representatives:
Plant a flag for Freedom from Oil -- to tell President Obama that we need a plan to get us off oil in twenty years.
The Huffington Post Is Scheduling Meetups. See if there is one in your area or start one:
UPDATE: It’s official: Oil spill special session off the table
by Dara Kam | September 1st, 2010
The Palm Beach Post
UPDATE: Senate President Jeff Atwater called to clarify his position on the decision not to hold a special session on oil spill-related issues. Here’s what he had to say:
"I haven’t changed my mind on anything. I don’t know how I could have tried any harder," Atwater said about the House’s decision that a special session is unnecessary this year. He said a special session is both "timely and necessary."
There’s no need for a special session to address the fall-out from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig blast that pumped millions of gallons of hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico, House Speaker Larry Cretul and Senate President Jeff Atwater have decided.
Despite earlier promises that lawmakers would convene as early as September to try to give a helping hand to fishermen and others in the Panhandle whose finances have crumbled in the aftermath of the April 20 disaster, the pair are convinced those issues can wait until the regular session next year in March.