Landrieu asks for aid on coast
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., recently reached out to the U.S. Coast Guard for more ongoing assistance on cleanup and response pertaining to the 2010 BP oil leak.
She wrote to the commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Robert Papp Jr., asking for additional assistance with lingering issues regarding the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
“There is significant concern that spill-related needs are not being adequately addressed under the Coast Guard’s direction,” Landrieu wrote.
She said she has discussed the issues with several parish leaders and some Coast Guard officials and that, “As a result of these discussions, I have become concerned about the current response posture in Louisiana and the presence of environmental and navigational hazards.”
The senior senator from Louisiana expressed concern that the Coast Guard has moved numerous segments of shoreline off of active monitoring, despite the fact that much of Louisiana’s coast is inaccessible wetlands, thereby reducing the effectiveness of citizen reporting. State officials also have told Landrieu the Coast Guard has moved many areas of coastline off of monitoring without adequately assessing them.
She asked the Coast Guard to assure they will remove submerged oil mats, once a review determines that such removal is technically feasible and environmentally beneficial. Finally, Landrieu urged the Coast Guard to respond to concerns that orphaned boom anchors are posing a threat to navigation. Thus far, the state has documented 20 incidents of boats colliding with orphaned boom anchors, but she said the Coast Guard has yet to act.
The national drought that mostly has affected the Midwest officially moved into Louisiana this past week when the U.S. Department of Agriculture formally designated several parishes as disaster areas.
The USDA named Morehouse, Richland, Union and West Carroll parishes as “primary” natural disaster areas in northern Louisiana.
Seven other parishes named as “contiguous” disaster areas are Caldwell, Claiborne, East Carroll, Franklin, Lincoln, Madison and Ouachita parishes.
Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain was happy with the designations, if not the situation.
“It’s unfortunate that our farmers need this type of assistance, but we are grateful it exists,” Strain said in a prepared statement.
The USDA reports 63 percent of the nation’s hay acreage and about 73 percent of cattle acreage are in areas experiencing drought.
About 87 percent of the U.S. corn and 85 percent of the soybeans are included in the drought areas.
A federal disaster designation makes farm operators in primary and contiguous areas eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes low-interest FSA emergency loans.
LSU graduate honored
LSU graduate Delores Morton is one of 12 AmeriCorps Alums being honored Friday at the White House as “Champions of Change.”
AmeriCorps programs largely focus on community service as pathways to personal and career advancement.
“Having experienced the transformation of AmeriCorps first hand, I am committed to helping ensure that the members serving in these programs are also able to identify within them a new way to deploy their unique skills and talents and become a part of a new generation of servant leaders,” Morton said in a prepared statement.
To engage people around the country in the conversation about AmeriCorps and public service opportunities, the White House will host an online forum — “Google+Hangout” — with AmeriCorps members and alumni.
Morton, who now lives in Atlanta, is president of the Points of Light’s Programs Division, where she is responsible for developing program initiatives and models to address the organization’s core impact areas — education, economy, environment, emergency response and preparedness, and veterans and military families’ affairs.
Prior to joining to Points of Light, she served as the director of the Center for Nonprofit Resources at Volunteer Baton Rouge.
Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate’s Washington bureau. His email address is jblum@theadvocate.