San Bernard River
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7-13-15
Another View of the BP Settlement Monies
The BP oil settlement does not make ANY proposed project a “done deal”, the road is still long until we should even hope to see any funding. That doesn’t mean we need to throw up our hands in despair, it just means we need to work a little harder now that our voices can make a difference.
In the meantime, columnist, Lynn Ashby waded in with his thoughts on the BP settlement in Friday, July 10, 2015 Opinion page of The Facts (page 5A). They are recounted below with his permission.
 
LYNN ASHBY: Don't count your chickens on BP payout
 
As expected, I found you here, checking out the 2016 Lamborghinis. I am thinking the same, or maybe a round-the-world cruise. The kids can pay off their own student loans. I am discussing, of course, the very large fortune that is coming our way — our share of the $18.7 billion that BP is going to pay out for its big oil dump in the Gulf off the Louisiana coast. Of that pile of cash, Texas is going to receive $788 million. There are currently about 27 million Texans, so that breaks down to, uh, 29 something for each of us. Maybe it’s $29,000 or $290,000. Or perhaps $29.
Before you pick the color of your Aventador — at $548,800 a steal — let’s discuss a few points. First, it is not really $788 million in cash BP is shoving across the table. The money is to be distributed over the next 15 to 18 years. Can anyone remember any politician’s or businessman’s promise from then? By 2028, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will be only an oil slime covering some forgotten pelicans. Also, some of this BP money has already been spent. BP being a British company and formerly British Petroleum, we’ll probably be paid in euros or pounds or quid.
However, congratulations to our Texas lawyers for getting all that loot considering our Gulf shores didn’t really suffer that much harm from oil scum. We had a few tar balls wash up close to Louisiana, some fishermen were inconvenienced, maybe even hurt financially, but in no way did Texas suffer $788 million in damages.
Where to spend the money? Some of it has already been earmarked: $70 million for conservation, more for campsites, boardwalks and showers, plus research projects at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UH. Almost half of these particular funds, $34.5 million, are being spent to buy a ranch. It’s the 17,351-acres Powderhorn Ranch along the coast between Port O’Connor and Port Lavaca, untouched by the spill. Just how one rationalizes spending money for oil spill damages into funds for classrooms and showers eludes me. Maybe the showers are for oil-soaked dolphins. The rest of that $788 million is up for grabs.
Fortunately, in this feeding frenzy for unexpected loot, we have a precedent, which we can learn from: The Big Tobacco Windfall of 1998. Under the agreement between the tobacco industry and most of the states, they would receive more than $206 billion over the next 25 years. Texas’s share was $15.3 billion — later increased to $17.3 billion — only behind California and New York. The money to the states was to be spent on health issues, anti-smoking messages, mostly for teenagers, and associated causes.
In Alaska, $3.5 million in settlement money was spent on shipping docks. In Niagara County, N.Y., $700,000 went for a public golf course’s sprinkler system, and $24 million for a county jail and an office building. Colorado has spent tens of millions of its share to support a literacy program. And in North Carolina, in the ultimate irony, $42 million of the settlement funds actually went to tobacco farmers for modernization and marketing. Here in Texas, the state says it is spending the tobacco money as it is supposed to, but I haven’t seen any anti-tobacco ads, maybe because I’m not a smoking teenager. Anyway, keep your eye out for new golf course’s sprinkler systems.
When it comes to legal fees, Texas is Numero Uno. With the tobacco settlement finally done, the lawyers descended, demanding fees which in some cases were ridiculous, others were only outrageous. By judge-shopping, attorneys received such generous payouts that some states sued to reduce them. Atlantic Monthly noted that the Massachusetts lawyers in that state’s tobacco case had already been awarded $775 million, an average of more than $7,700 an hour. Texas scored the highest per capita legal fees award with $3.3 billion being divided among five lawyers plus two out-of-state attorneys, but at the end Texas lawyers were suing one another for a bigger chunk of the pie.
Then there is Katrina, which we shall be hearing about for years, mainly over lawsuits. My application for $5 million in yacht repairs was turned down because the judge said my rowboat had been deemed “unfit even for dry land” by the Coast Guard. Like they know anything about boats. So don’t order that Lamborghini just yet. You probably need the advice of a good lawyer.
Lynn Ashby is a Houston-based columnist. Contact him at ashby2@comcast.net.


7-6-15
A Step Closer to Work on the San Bernard River Mouth
Before RESTORE Act funds could be distributed to the states (and those funds could be applied for to open the mouth of the San Bernard, BP Exploration and Production Inc. had to come to a settlement with the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. federal government. And on July 2, 2015, the state of Texas announced they had reached an agreement in principle. Before we see work on the San Bernard River mouth, it will be another couple of years. The wheels turn slow – but they are turning.
Texas Reaches Agreement On Deep Water Horizon Case 
AUSTIN – Texas today announced an agreement in principle between BP Exploration and Production Inc. and the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the U.S. federal government. As part of the agreement, BP will pay $20.2 billion in damages and penalties, with Texas receiving more than $750 million. Upon agreeing to the terms, Governor Abbott issued the following statement:
“After five years, I’m proud to announce that Texas, along with the other Gulf States, has reached an agreement in principle with BP to resolve all the states’ claims. This settlement will allow Texas to reinvest in the Gulf community and reinvigorate the economic and environmental health of the region.”
Details Of The Settlement:
  • BP will pay a total of $20.2 billion in damages and penalties:
    • $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties. 
      • This amount will fund projects in the Gulf-Wide RESTORE Act plan.
    • $8.8 billion in Natural Resource Damages. 
      • This is under the federal Oil Pollution Act.
    • $4.9 billion in Economic Damages to the Gulf States.
  • Texas will see a large amount of money that will be part of Texas’ Gulf Restoration plan.
  • The Clean Water Act penalties and the Natural Resource Damages penalties will be a 15 year payout plan starting in 2017.



The Intersection of the San Bernard River and the ICW on June 6, 2015
By Roy Edwards
 
Here are the latest photos taken by Bert Smith Saturday, June 6, 2015 at the intersection of the San Bernard River and the Intracoastal Canal.
 
Photo 1 – This photo was taken from above the intersection of the Intracoastal Canal (ICW) and the San Bernard River - looking to the Northwest. The ICW runs from the lower right to the upper left. The loaded barge right of center is approaching River’s End, headed to Sweeny. McNeil’s Bayou and Pelican Lake are just to the right of the barge. Note the muddy water from the current Brazos flooding that is moving into the Intersection from the East. Also note that the water from the Brazos in the ICW mostly turns to the Gulf and does not cross the San Bernard to continue toward Sargent in the Intracoastal Canal. And no, the mouth of the river has not been opened by this and the silt carried in the water will serve to further close the San Bernard's mouth.
 
Photo 2 – This photo was taken from above the intersection of the San Bernard River and the ICW, looking to the southwest. The Gulf of Mexico is at the top of the picture. The first and second Cedar Lakes are above center to the right. The San Bernard River is coming from under the plane’s wing. Again, note how the Brazos flood waters are moving from East to West (left to right) in the Intracoastal Canal. Please note the color change of the water coming down the San Bernard (that’s not a shadow in the picture). The Brazos floodwaters are turning at the San Bernard and are moving toward the Gulf of Mexico. So, during this flood, it looks like the mouth of the Bernard is being silted up from both directions.

 


Brazoria County Hurricane Preparedness Expo  English   Spanish
2015 Hurricane Guide clickHERE


                                                  
This series of pictures of the San Bernard River mouth and surrounding area were taken 3-14-15 by Albert Smith from approximately 5,000 feet. The San Bernard is enlarged by rains the previous week. A couple of things to note are : in the mouth picture, the water turning toward Sargent; in the ICW looking toward Sargent, the number of barges stacked up in the ICW; in the River’s End Community picture, the enlargement of the river (this area is called “the narrows” and is usually the narrowest part of the San Bernard going to the Gulf).
  
 


 Mike Holmes Texas Hunt Fish Click HERE 
2014 Hurricane Guide click HERE


2-28-2014: The Facts: San Bernard fix in the works


Mike Holmes Texas Hunt Fish  click HERE
 

 
To monitor water movement at the Brazos Floodgates, go to: http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/BusinessWithUs/OperationsDivision/BrazosRiverFloodgatesSummary.aspx 

(This article and previous ones can be found on tPrevious Articles)

Pictures of the San Bernard River mouth have been moved to page "Mouth Pictures".