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Garden District Book Shop, 6PM
From her new book "Drink Dat New Orleans: A Guide to the Best Cocktail Bars, Dives, & Speakeasies"
Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop, 7PM
Book publishing workshop
Dillrd University, 7PM
Olympic gymnast talks fame and fitness
The Carver, 7PM
World soul jazz music
Loyola University, 7PM
Clowns for a cause, to benefit Syrian refugees
St. Roch Tavern, 8PM
Tonight: beer, haircuts, karaoke
Bayou Beer Garden, 8PM
Blue Nile, 9PM
Interstellar future funk
Snug Harbor, 10PM
Galactic drummer’s side project - also at 8PM
Botanical Garden, 10AM
Art exhibit and sale en plein air
Alex Beard Studio, 5PM
Drinks, food, painting to celebrate the artist's studio opening
Maison Dupuy Hotel, 5PM
Fancy foods, music by jazz great Tim Laughlin, and event raffle
Benachi House & Gardens, 6PM
Southern Rep's fundraising dinner and party
New Canal Lighthouse, 6PM
Coastal scientist discusses his work
Smoothie King Center, 7PM
The Birds and the Mavs go head to head
Allways Lounge, 7PM
Last game planned in the Allways's popular performance & game night
2314 Iberville St., 7:30PM
Cocktails for a cause
Saenger Theatre, 8PM
The Beach Boy presents "Pet Sounds"
Catahoula Hotel, 8PM
Free drinks if you can do his dance. Vote for Pedro!
BJs in the Bywater, 8PM
Poetry with Clare Welsh and Todd Cirillo
Bar Redux, 9PM
NOLA's Horror Films Fest screens shorts
Howlin Wolf, 10PM
Bronx hip hop comes south
Bywater Art Lofts, 6PM
Live art in the air
Ogden Museum, 6PM
Feat. Mia Borders
New Orleans Jazz Museum, 6PM
Exhibit opening on the late Pete Fountain
Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture, 6PM
Unveiling of Big Freedia's 2018 Krew du Viewux costume
Langston Hughes Academy, 7PM
8th annual dinner party in the Dreamkeeper Garden
The Republlic, 7PM
Immersive pop-up gallery, boutique, and stage show
Euphorbia Kava Bar, 7PM
DIY rock, pop, punk show
Saenger Theatre, 7:30PM
Joy Theater, 8PM
The Carver, 9PM
NOLA brass all-stars
Gasa Gasa, 9PM
Feat. Burn Like Fire and I'm Fine in support
Allways Lounge, 10:30PM
Feat. Creep Cuts and Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers
One Eyed Jacks, 10:30PM
80s dance party
Drilling and Able
NoDef Talks to John Barry About Coastal Restoration as "Issue of Our Lifetime"
Two Recent polls show landslide margins of public support for coastal restoration. Within the numbers, however, is a picture of the various forces shaping the dialogue of coastal restoration.
One of the polls, released by America’s Wetland Foundation, might well have dubbed a new catch line for the land loss fight. 74 percent of Louisianians were willing to call coastal restoration the “issue of my lifetime.” Sidney Coffee, a senior advisor at America’s Wetland, said that in years past, the organization has found “fairly high” levels of support for the issue, “but not as high as this,” citing recent hurricanes and the BP oil spill for the heightened awareness. Jim Kitchens, who conducted the AWF poll of 400 people across the state, highlighted the high margins found in the survey. 72 percent of those polled thought that climate change was a “serious problem” and 91 percent linked a strong coastal environment with a strong economy. Kitchens said in an AWF press release, “When you find averages around the eighty percentiles, you better sit up and take notice.”
Another poll released last November by the Restore Louisiana Now organization showed similarly enthusiastic support for coastal restoration: 96 percent of the 1000 people surveyed agreed that Louisiana’s vanishing coast needs to be addressed. But beyond a common acknowledgment of the problem, the two polls diverge impressively, and at times they seem to argue. One prompt in the America’s Wetland survey read, “A unified effort is the best hope for coastal restoration and protection, not assigning blame for what has been lost.” 97 percent agreed. Mention of “blame” could be a response to the RLN poll, which asked if “oil and gas industry contributed to the loss of natural wetlands and marshes.” 72 percent thought it had.
Another prompt in the AWF poll read: Perceived conflicts between energy production and environmental protection have become too politically divisive. To solve both problems, we need leaders to cooperate more and not engage in partisan politics. 95 percent agreed.
The poll seems to question the lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East against 97 oil, natural gas, and pipeline companies. The suit claims that the industry’s access canals have damaged wetlands and therefore increased flood risk in metro New Orleans. Until October, John Barry was the vice-chairman of the commission, which oversees metro New Orleans levee systems on the Eastbank. He was ousted from that board along with two other board members who supported the lawsuit. In response, Barry created the non-profit Restore Louisiana Now, in part to provide support for the suit. 76 percent of the public supported the lawsuit in the non-profit’s poll.
Coffee said, “As far as the lawsuit is concerned, we don’t take any side.”
But in response to the conflicts referenced in the AWF poll, John Barry said, “Of course, you need to recognize that America’s Wetland gets nearly all of its funding from the oil & gas industry.” (In 2005 The Washington Post reported that during the Foster administration, “Shell Oil, worried about its offshore drilling platforms, put up several million dollars for a PR campaign to rebrand Louisiana's marshes as ‘America's Wetland.’")
“I agree that everyone needs to cooperate,” Barry said, “Unfortunately, the industry has not voluntarily done much.”
He then mounted a defense of the lawsuit in usual, methodical fashion: “Remember, in the permits they voluntarily agreed to restore what they damaged. State law requires them to do the same. But the oil companies haven't kept their word or obeyed the law. They want taxpayers to pay to fix what they destroyed.”
In the AWF survey, 90 percent agreed that the federal government should protect “coastal areas supplying energy to the U.S.” It stopped short of asking whether the industry should carry financial responsibility, but 94 percent agreed that “Oil companies should cooperate with local and state governments to develop solutions to our energy and environmental problems.”
When asked how that cooperation might manifest itself, Coffee mentioned a focus group held by America’s Wetland in conjunction with the survey. The group was representative of those polled. “They said if there are damages, then yes, they should pay,” she said. The same group called for the administration of a pool of funds from all parties involved, including navigation, energy, and government interests.
A consensus for the long term is even less clear. 72 percent agreed in the AWF poll that climate change is a serious threat. And 65 percent agreed that “Americans must learn to consume less of everything. It is the only way we can become energy independent and protect the quality of our environment.” Coffee said “There’s probably a bigger disconnect between politicians and the public” when it comes to a changing climate.
Yet 84 percent in the AWF poll think that we can simultaneously drill for oil and protect the coast’s environment. Asked about the public’s apparent ambivalence about oil, Coffee said Louisianians “want it all.”
“They want the oil industry here, and they also want a healthy environment. And they think it’s reasonable to have both at the same time.”
When Louisiana’s coastal restoration plan was drafted during the Foster administration, it was the largest environmental initiative in the history of the country. Coffee worked with Governor Foster in the nineties to educate a public that was largely unaware of the problem in the first place. “The public did not understand the kind of crisis of land loss that we had here.”
The leap from general unawareness to a moniker like “the issue of our lifetime” is a giant one. As Coffee says, the problem “has many layers to it,” and each layer is massive and intricate. She says that things get murky when the public is confronted with some of those difficulties, like the possible impact that some initiatives can have on the oyster harvest. She also said that questions like those in Restore Louisiana Now’s poll are often designed elicit specific responses.
Dr. Bob Thomas, the director of Loyola’s Center for Environmental Communication, said of the polls, “I think the public understands there is a problem and that it will affect their lives. At the same time, I don't think they understand how to make improvements happen.”
Of the two organizations’ differing messages, he said, “If they (America’s Wetland Foundation) had not gotten the money from Shell and taken all the steps they have, there are no guarantees that anyone else would have (or could have) picked up the ball at the same pace.”
“Obviously, the ties among these organizations and their combined communication efforts are quite complex.”
Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Andrew Smith
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz