On Monday, December 1st, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released their list of proposed restoration projects for the Funded Priorities List (FPL). The proposed FPL is comprised of 50 habitat and water quality projects offered by the five Gulf States, the Corps of Engineers (Department of Army), Department of Interior, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency. As restoration of the Gulf ecosystem is one of the primary responsibilities of the Council, the final projects chosen should reflect this goal. Once vetting and evaluation is complete, the Council will determine which projects and programs it will prioritize for funding -- up to $150-180 million. These funds come from a portion of Transocean’s Clean Water Act penalties from the BP drilling disaster per the RESTORE Act.
We appreciate that the Council released the full list of projects and programs under consideration. This is a step in the right direction to ensure that the interested public has an opportunity to fully vet the projects that have been proposed. Communities that were impacted by the oil disaster, as well as the general public, will need opportunities to express their views on how the Council should prioritize these projects and programs, including important criteria such as local jobs. The Council has followed through on their commitment to be more transparent by providing detailed summaries of each project under consideration, and we encourage you to review them and let the Council know what you think. It is important to know how the Council will choose projects from this list, and let them know why some projects should be deemed more worthy than others.
The Council has made progress on getting input from the public and being more transparent. With potentially billions of dollars under their jurisdiction, and authority to make decisions that will impact numerous Gulf communities, they need to do more so the public can be confident that the funds from this disaster will truly go to the best projects that will restore the Gulf.
GRN will continue to watchdog the funds related to the BP drilling disaster, however we will need your help to hold the RESTORE Council and others accountable for their decisions. Please sign our “I Stand with the Gulf” pledge right now, and share it with your social media networks.