Travis Lux

Travis Lux primarily contributes science and health stories to Louisiana's Lab. He studied anthropology and sociology at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and picked up his first microphone at the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, MA. In his spare time he loves to cook -- especially soups and casseroles. 

A bill that could increase the amount of royalty money Louisiana gets from offshore oil and gas drilling advanced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, called the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life Act, or COASTAL Act, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La). It would reduce how much oil and gas money goes to the federal government, and increase the amount that goes to states along the Gulf of Mexico -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico saw its biggest drop in more than a decade due to the production shutdown ahead of Hurricane Barry earlier this summer, but most consumers likely didn't notice a difference at the gas pump.

As Hurricane Barry approached the Louisiana coast in July, companies evacuated workers and temporarily shut down many of their oil and gas platforms in the Gulf.

A new report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says sea levels are rising twice as fast as they used to. They’re also warming up and losing oxygen, meaning climate change will increasingly impact everything from coastal flooding to hurricanes to the number of fish in the sea.

According to the report, about 680 million people (10% of the global population) live in coastal regions less than 30 feet above sea level, and face increasing risks caused by sea level rise, storm intensification, and a host of other issues. Large swaths of coastal Louisiana and the Gulf Coast fall squarely into that category.

To better understand what the report suggests about the future of the Gulf Coast, WWNO’s Travis Lux spoke with Dr. Lisa Levin, an oceanographer at UC San Diego and one of the authors of the report.

Louisiana is building a new cybersecurity center in Baton Rouge.

The newly named Louisiana Cyber Coordination Center, or LC3, has a few goals. It will support existing cyber missions at military sites like Fort Polk. It will also be used to help train members of the Louisiana National Guard, as well as to help defend governments and companies against a growing number of cyber attacks.

A strong majority of Louisiana voters believe in climate change, according to a new poll sponsored by several environmental groups.

About 1,000 “chronic voters” in Louisiana were surveyed by phone for the poll, which was conducted by political consulting firm BDPC LLC + Pinsonat for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition.

One of the ways the state plans to rebuild land on the Louisiana coast is by sediment diversions -- diverting the silt, sand, and dirty waters of the Mississippi River into the marsh.

For years, many in the commercial fishing industry have claimed that the influx of freshwater funneled through diversions would ruin their industry. Now, some fishers feel they have proof: the damaging impacts of the 2019 Mississippi River Flood.

This year’s dead zone is the eighth largest on record in the Gulf of Mexico, though it’s size could have been impacted by Hurricane Barry last month.

The dead zone is an area of hypoxic, or low-oxygen, conditions that forms at the bottom of the Gulf every year. Fertilizers, which wash off of Midwestern agricultural fields and down the Mississippi River, fuel algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. As the algae dies the water loses oxygen, killing fish and other sea creatures.

Two disaster-related bills proposed this week in Congress could offer relief for Louisiana communities affected by extreme weather. One would create a permanent safety net program for commercial fishers who have suffered losses due to environmental damage. Another would create a special fund meant to help cities and towns build more resiliently.

Commercial Fishing and Aquaculture Protection Act of 2019

Environmental disasters can cause commercial fishers to lose money. This year, for example, Mississippi River flooding has dramatically reduced the catch of several kinds of seafood in both Mississippi and Louisiana.

The flooding Mississippi River is taking a major toll on Louisiana’s commercial fisheries.

Many of the state’s fisheries, like shrimp and oysters, need a mix of salty and fresh water to grow properly. But because of the months-long flooding on the Mississippi River and the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway -- through which water has been flowing for more than 70 days this year -- many of those areas are now too fresh.

Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan is the state’s guide for restoring its disappearing coastline and defending cities from rising seas. It includes things like levees and rebuilding marshes. But how does the state decide where to build projects? How does it decide what kind of project to build? And how is climate change considered?

All month long, WWNO is teaming up with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to bring you a special series called Sinking Louisiana. This week, WWNO’s Travis Lux talks talks with Bren Haase, Executive Director of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), about how the state makes big decisions that impact lots of people. They spoke at the CPRA headquarters in Baton Rouge.

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