View looking south from Mississippi's West Ship Island. Late last month, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant announced the formation of the GoCoast2020 – an advisory body to guide the Governor and other state officials on the use of RESTORE Act funds in Mississippi. GoCoast2020 is made up of over one hundred members, distributed between 8 subcommittees (see the full list here). Most of the members are elected officials from the coast, members of the business community, or state officials. Their mandate is to present the Governor with a final report in January with “recommendations and ideas” on how the RESTORE funds should be disbursed.
We certainly hope that Governor Bryant and the GoCoast2020 members will craft a well thought-out plan for sustainable ecosystem and economic restoration that includes long-term job opportunities for local community members in the restoration economy. However, the state’s track-record on spending restoration dollars post-Hurricane Katrina (the Port of Gulfport expansion is just one example), and the lack of many representatives from community, social justice, or conservation organizations on GoCoast2020 provide reasons to be wary.
Nonetheless, we’ve had some good initial conversations with representatives from the state and GoCoast2020, and we hope to continue to build on these conversations over the next couple of months. GRN and our partners will be working to make sure that community and environmental voices have a seat at the table when it comes to how RESTORE Act funds are spent in coastal Mississippi. For now, if you want to get involved, you can submit your ideas and comments to GoCoast2020 on their website here. And keep an eye out for further updates on our blog as we learn more.
Raleigh Hoke is GRN’s Mississippi Organizer.