May 25, 2010

Remembering Shea Penland

As I sit watching the oil spill coverage I'm remembering Dr. Shea Penland. Ph.d at the University of New Orleans. When I was a student there, and in my geology phase, I went on a field trip with Dr. Penland to the barrier islands. He was so passionate about protecting Louisiana's wetlands. He had some brilliant ideas about how to rebuild them but there was no money or the political will to make it happen.

He would have been a great resource today as the politicians finally have the will and desire to rebuild the barrier islands off the Louisiana coast. Governor Jindal has plans to build 80 miles of barrier islands to protect Louisiana from the spreading oil spill. I doubt they could be built fast enough to do any good, and I think Shea would have agreed, but I'll take any effort to protect our coast that is offered, however misguided it may be.

Shea spent several years working in Alaska and saw first-hand the devastation caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He also stayed behind during Hurricane Katrina to witness the damage caused by a Category 5 hurricane hitting a coastal city that had lost most of the protection provided those barrier islands he had been promoting for years.

I think he would have been on the phone with Governor Jindal and Parish President Billy Nungesser to offer his assistance with this barrier island plan.

I miss Shea personally, but more importantly I think Louisiana needs a person like him to step up right now. Someone with the mind of scientist and the heart of a warrior. I hope we find that person because Louisiana's future may depend on them.
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