Archive | Environment

Hell Has Come to South Louisiana

Story by Dahr Jamail
Photography by Erika Blumenfeld

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Clint Guidry is a shrimper from Lafitte, Louisiana. As we sit together, he shows me a picture of his house with 18 inches of water in it as a result of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

In his deep voice, he looks me in the eye and says, “My fear is repeating this situation, but with this water with oil on top of it.”

Guidry represents all the shrimpers in Louisiana, given that he is the Shrimp Harvester Representative on the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force that was created by the state’s governor.

Prior to this fishing season, he, like the rest of Louisiana’s fishermen, was excited for good season, with the price of shrimp per pound finally weighing more in their favor.

“We were primed for a great season,” Guidry says, “And it all got taken away.”

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Fending For Themselves

Story by Dahr Jamail
Photography by Erika Blumenfeld

We drive south on Louisiana Highway 55 towards Pointe-au-Chien. The two-lane road hugs a bayou, like most of the roads leading south into the marsh areas. Incredibly green, lush forest gives way to increasing areas of water the further south we venture, until the very road feels as though it is floating.

We cross over a small concrete bridge over another bayou and find ourselves square in front of the Pointe-au-Chien sign informing us this is their tribal area. We’ve come to meet Theresa Dardar, in order to learn more about how the BP oil disaster is decimating the indigenous populations of Southern Louisiana.

Theresa is a member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe. They are a small community of self-described Indians that live in southern Louisiana along a small stretch of the Bayou Pointe-au-Chien. Now, oil from the BP disaster threatens their very existence.

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Living on a dying delta

Story by Dahr Jamail
Photography by Erika Blumenfeld
Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Our first full day in Louisiana finds us venturing south from New Orleans to Houma, a town about an hours drive to the southwest. It is from here we are to take a flight over the marsh to inspect the damage, thus far, caused by the ongoing BP oil catastrophe.

Walking into the office of Butler Aviation Services at the airport, the downtrodden mood, and accompanying anger, are palpable. Of course this is not assisted by the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Louisiana today.

“What would you tell Joe if he walked into your office,” Robbie Butler, with the flight service of his name, asks me. He then adds, “Hey Joe, lead, follow, or get out of the way. That’s what I’d tell him.”

At approximately the same time Butler is telling me of these three excellent suggestions, Biden is in downtown New Orleans inside the “command center” meeting with more than 100 BP, government and military officials inside a cavernous office dubbed “the bullpen.” In case anyone wasn’t clear about the priorities of the US government, included in Biden’s entourage are BP’s chief operating officer Doug Suttles, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. It was Jindal who, on June 2nd, sent an urgent letter to President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding his grave concerns at the time of the administration’s decision to place a moratorium on deepwater drilling.

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