As the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, which includes the governors of the five Gulf states, meets to take public comment from across the Gulf, many different groups, from business to associations to environmental groups to local communities, are coming together in support of the strong connections between environmental restoration and economic renewal.
Most recently, nearly 120 businesses with combined revenue in excess of $20 billion annually have signed on to testimonial letters supporting the use of RESTORE Act funds for large-scale environmental restoration that will create jobs, strengthen Gulf community resilience, and contribute to long-term economic renewal. (Download a PDF of the letters) The companies urged the states to also invest these funds in worker training initiatives which would bring together industry, communities and government to connect local, low income and disadvantaged workers to the new jobs created in constructing, designing and administering ecosystem restoration projects.
The eventual allocation of funding related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response has the potential to enable the people of the Gulf of Mexico to simultaneously restore the health and resilience of their environments, their economies and their communities. As local, state and federal governments plan for restoration of the Gulf Coast, new opportunities will arise for economic growth.
Right now, there is a remarkable opportunity to restore the Gulf, to strengthen its traditional industries, spur innovation, accelerate emerging markets centered on environmental restoration, and promote new prosperity. These new markets translate into on-the-ground jobs for workers in the region, providing new opportunities towards economic mobility and above average wages. For example, a recent economic study by Mather Economics, estimates that fines to be paid for the 2010 oil spill could create up to 57,697 new jobs in restoration projects in the next ten years alone.
Oxfam America and The Nature Conservancy delivered the letters to the five Gulf state governors on Tuesday, February 19. Signers include businesses and professional associations such as Darden International, Atkins North America, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, Orion Marine Group, and the American Sportfishing Association.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.