Today, the council of government officials established by the RESTORE Act to oversee the allocation of oil spill penalty funds released its plan for the restoration of the Gulf’s environment. The Nature Conservancy called this plan a “sound framework” for future action that, when implemented, will help create jobs and protect Gulf residents from storms by investing in the restoration of the Gulf’s natural systems.
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s Initial Comprehensive Plan: Restoring the Gulf Coast’s Ecosystem and Economy (Initial Comprehensive Plan), lays the groundwork for channeling Deepwater Horizon oil spill penalty dollars into what will likely become the largest regional restoration effort in U.S. history.
“The Nature Conservancy supports the Council’s commitment to restoring the Gulf of Mexico and the communities that rely upon it. The release of the Initial Comprehensive Plan is an important step toward creating a better future for the Gulf,” said Robert Bendick, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy. “This plan sets a sound framework for guiding the Council’s activities in the Gulf so that its projects and programs will deliver the greatest possible benefits to the Gulf’s natural ecosystems and habitats. This in turn, will strengthen natural systems, create and maintain jobs, and help protect Gulf Coast communities from storms and other hazards.”
Among the key components of the Initial Comprehensive Plan supported by The Nature Conservancy are:
• Criteria and objectives for selecting restoration projects that will be funded and implemented by the Council;
• Information about how the Council will conduct its work in the Gulf, including how the Council will solicit and review project proposals;
• A commitment to using the best available science to guide the Council’s decisions, including forming a scientific advisory committee or other vehicle to accomplish this goal;
• Continued emphasis on engaging diverse public input in making Gulf investment decisions and on coordination;
• Coordination among restoration funding agencies to ensure a comprehensive and cost-effective approach to Gulf restoration; and
• Guidelines for the state plans for spending RESTORE Act dollars that the Council is also charged with approving.
“By laying the groundwork for a strong Gulf coast restoration plan, the Initial Comprehensive Plan represents an important step toward restoring Mississippi’s coastal environment and revitalizing its communities. Not only will restoration provide a first line of defense against storms, it will strengthen the region’s tourism and fishing industries and create new economic opportunities,” Bendick said.
“We urge the Council to approve this plan at its August 28th meeting,” Bendick continued. “Further, we look forward to the next phase in this process, where we can begin to see critical restoration projects being implemented. We urge the Council to form a science and technical advisory committee as soon as possible, so that the best available science can guide this process. We also approve of continued public involvement in the decision-making process. The Nature Conservancy’s polling reflects public support for restoring the Gulf’s natural features.”
The first RESTORE Act dollars, which were generated from the civil settlement between Transocean and the Justice Department, could begin to flow as early as this fall.
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will meet on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, at 1 p.m. CDT to vote on the Initial Comprehensive Plan.
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.
The Nature Conservancy