A Few Things I Love About Louisiana
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana — I’ve been coming to the Gulf coast of Louisiana every few months since July 2008, making a film about the relationship between man and the water in a place where everywhere you look there is glimpse of a river, creek, bayou, basin, swamp, the Gulf or the Mississippi River. Coincidentally, in light of recent events, one of the first things we filmed upon arrival 22 months ago was an oil spill. At the time when an oil tanker t-boned a barge in the middle of the Mississippi River at midnight on July 28 it seemed catastrophic. Now I know that it was in part business as usual.
That 400,000-gallon spill, in the heart of New Orleans’ drinking water source, quickly coated both banks of the river for 80 miles, all the way to the Gulf. We filmed crews in white hazmat suits power-washing oil off the rocks in New Orleans from the tourist promenade lining the river. In an interview with the Department of Environmental Quality official in charge of the state’s waterways he admitted without hesitation that “this kind of thing happens often in Louisiana, given the massive oil and gas industry that controls things here.”
In the months since we have traveled with, interviewed and filmed a half-dozen of Louisiana’s crème-de-la-crème of environmental activists and environmental ills. My original intent was to try and understand and explain the Dead Zone that grows off the mouth of the Mississippi every summer thanks to fertilizers washed down it from 31 northern states. But one interesting character led to another, one mess to another, and we just kept coming back. For the rest of my dispatch from Breaux Bridge, see www.takepart.com ….