WRKF

Gulf of Mexico

A bill that could increase the amount of royalty money Louisiana gets from offshore oil and gas drilling advanced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, called the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life Act, or COASTAL Act, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La). It would reduce how much oil and gas money goes to the federal government, and increase the amount that goes to states along the Gulf of Mexico -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

A new report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says sea levels are rising twice as fast as they used to. They’re also warming up and losing oxygen, meaning climate change will increasingly impact everything from coastal flooding to hurricanes to the number of fish in the sea.

According to the report, about 680 million people (10% of the global population) live in coastal regions less than 30 feet above sea level, and face increasing risks caused by sea level rise, storm intensification, and a host of other issues. Large swaths of coastal Louisiana and the Gulf Coast fall squarely into that category.

To better understand what the report suggests about the future of the Gulf Coast, WWNO’s Travis Lux spoke with Dr. Lisa Levin, an oceanographer at UC San Diego and one of the authors of the report.

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to be the second biggest in history, according to a new forecast from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

The dead zone is mostly caused by agricultural run-off from the Mississippi River; nutrients from fertilizers like nitrogen and phosphorus enter the water, causing algae to bloom once it slows and heats up in the Gulf of Mexico. When the algae decays, it uses up oxygen in the water which can stress and kill some sea creatures. The condition of reduced oxygen is known as hypoxia.

Every summer, a dead zone forms in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an area with so little oxygen that marine life can’t survive, caused mostly by agricultural fertilizers that wash down the Mississippi River.

 

According to a new study from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), it’s much smaller this year. But, that might not necessarily be a sign of progress.

LRN

Professor Nancy Rabalais of LSU's Energy, Coast and Environment Department talks about the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and its impact on the environment.


The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

Indianapolis Zoo

You wouldn’t think Indiana and Louisiana have much in common. But that hasn’t stopped the Indianapolis Zoo from developing a partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana. Their goal? To draw attention to the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone.

 


Elaine LaLanne joins us today to remember her late husband, fitness legend Jack LaLanne. A pioneer in the world of health & fitness, Jack took his message of healthy living and exercise to the homes of millions of Americans each week on television for over three decades. Even into his late 90's, Jack was still advocating a healthier way to live, eat, and stay active. He would have turned 100 years old today, and Elaine reminisces on the good times she had with Jack over the 50+ years they were married.

Also, LSU Oceanographer Professor Dr. James H. Cowan, Jr. joins us to discuss his opinion on the current state of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. On August 18th, Dr. Nancy Rabalais, Dr. Cathy Kling, and Dr. Eugene Turner were on the show discussing the topic, and Dr. Cowan is here today to disagree with some of what they said.

Author April Smith joins us for the last segment today to close out the show and promote her latest book, the WWI based historical fiction novel A Star for Mrs. Blake. The book tells the story of five American women, Gold Star Mothers, who voyage across the Atlantic to visit the graves of their sons who died in battle during The Great War. Before boarding the ship, the women meet for the first time and over the course of their journey their lives are changed forever.

Also, News Reporter for LRN Michelle Southern joins us for a few quick minutes between guests to discuss an "accident" that happened yesterday while she was interviewing Louisiana State Senator J.P. Morrell over the phone.


Professor Cathy Kling of Iowa State University, Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Marine Consortium, and Professor Eugene Turner of LSU's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences join the show for the first two segments to discuss the Gulf of Mexico's "Dead Zone." The three of them have been co-authors on recently published journal reports on the "Dead Zone" and they discuss and explain the causes of it, the impacts of it (both economically and environmentally), as well as ways to help reduce it.

Also, pollster Bernie Pinsonat joins us in studio to close out today's show. He and Jim discuss the upcoming November elections in Louisiana, as well as the recent remarks from Governor Bobby Jindal on his bid for the White House.


Jonathan Henderson of New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network is flying Louisiana's coast looking for oil. As usual, he's found some.

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