America's Wetland Foundation is a Louisiana based non-profit formed to save and conserve the gulf coast wetlands. With its America's Energy Coast partners, a new initiative was formed: "BLUE RIBBON RESILIENT COMMUNITIES: Envisioning The Future of America's Energy Coast." It is designed to help coastal communities plan and adapt to natural or man made challenges, from hurricanes to last year's Gulf Oil spill. Val Marmillion is co-founder of AWF.
"We held a World Delta Dialogues conference last October, and a finding from that confernce was that we needed to go into local communities, because the true authentic voice was not reaching high level policy makers. And so, we are going into 13 communities from Texas to Florida, finding out what the vulnerabilities are based on some studies that we've done, and then asking the local citizens, how do you think you can adapt to the change?"
Houston is the third of 12 forums being held in the gulf regions of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Marmillion says the five states share a commonality.
"They are all vulnerable, they are all key to the Gulf Coast ecosystem and the energy production for this country.
PH: "And by vulnerabilities Val, you mean either weather related, or something that happened, like last year with BP, right?"
Marmillion: "Yes, exactly. It could be man made disaster or a natural disaster, but it could also mean rising sea levels. We have some real serious issues along the Gulf Coast, with the sea levels rising, making the storm surges and storm events even more dramatic."
Texas Environmental Commissioner Buddy Garcia told participants that America's Wetland Foundation should be applauded for helping Houston better understand strengths and weaknesses.
"Oftentimes, waiting for response from the federal government can take years, and quite candidly this alliance if you will, between gulf states is long overdue. I think attention to the Gulf of Mexico is important in Washington, and this is a genuine effort at trying to find a common ground with the folks that value the Gulf of Mexico, and live in coastal regions."
Participants realize that coming together is crucial, to work out solutions that benefit economies along the coast that are crucial to the country.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.