The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, a new U.S. federal entity created by the RESTORE Act consisting of six federal agencies and the five Gulf of Mexico states, released its first list of projects to restore the Gulf in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Paid for with civil penalties from a settlement with Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, these projects total USD 183.2 million and range from land acquisition to construction of living shorelines.
This is the first funding allocated under the RESTORE Act, which directs 80 percent of Clean Water Act civil penalties related to the BP oil disaster to the Gulf Coast for environmental and economic restoration.
Pending the finalization of a separate USD 18.7 billion settlement with BP, the council is expected to receive an additional USD 1.32 billion for ecosystem restoration across the Gulf region.
”The Council appears to have put politics aside, choosing to focus on prioritizing projects by watershed rather than by political boundary, but have unfortunately left out any consideration of the offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The success of coastal restoration is intrinsically linked to a healthy marine ecosystem. We encourage the Council to extend their comprehensive approach beyond the salt line,” said Bethany Carl Kraft, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Program.
”We are pleased to see the Council leverage projects to ensure that their collective impact is greater than the sum of their individual parts. At the same time, we recognize that the work to restore the Gulf is only beginning. As this first set of projects moves toward implementation, the Council must focus on shoring up its science and project selection processes and updating its Comprehensive Plan to reflect a renewed commitment to thoughtful and science-based approaches to project selection.”