Gulf of Mexico Alliance holds workshop listen01/14/09 Seán Kinane
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The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a partnership between the five states bordering the Gulf: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Today at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa’s Chanelside district, the Alliance held a community input workshop.
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has received $5 million in funding from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and $3 million from the Environmental Protection Agency EPA. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has identified six priority issues and formed teams to work on them.
The sixth priority issue is environmental education. But before the community input workshop, a coalition of environmental advocates held a press conference calling for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to add a seventh priority issue – climate change.
The Sierra Club’s Phil Compton says the Gulf of Mexico Alliance should make climate change a priority issue because changes to climate affect rainfall patterns, algal blooms, nutrient levels in the water, and the region’s economy.
St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse warned that sea level rise due to global climate change means that “governments across the Gulf will need to adjust their zoning to be sure that we’re not building on areas that will be unsafe to build on in the future. … We need to change where people build.” WMNF asked Nurse why he voted with the majority of the St. Pete City Council in November to annex part of Tierra Verde – a move that could allow 8-story condos to be built on that vulnerable barrier island. “You expected consistency?” Karl said.
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance considers climate change within some of their other priority issues, but David White, the regional director of the Ocean Conservancy, says that it is important enough that it should become a priority for the Alliance.
Back inside the Gulf of Mexico Alliance community input workshop, the 30 participants broke into three groups for facilitated discussions on topics such as the connection between local economies and the Gulf.
Dena Leavengood is a community advocate from Tampa. She participated in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s community input workshop and called it positive.
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance will publish their second regional collaboration blueprint this year.