RESTORE Council Updates Comprehensive Plan

 

Image Courtesy of Environmental Law Institute
Image Courtesy of Environmental Law Institute

It’s been five months since the $20 billion
settlement with BP was finalized, setting
forth the timeline and dollar amounts that
will make its way down to the Gulf Coast.
Within that $20 billion, approximately
$5.3 billion went towards the funding of the
RESTORE Act, which has been tasked with 
implementing restoration projects and
programs across the Gulf.

The RESTORE Council, a federal-state body
tasked with governing two significant
portion's of the RESTORE Act dollars, 
recently released their update to its 2013 Initial Comprehensive Plan, informing the public, and federal, state and local bodies how the Council portion of RESTORE dollars will be spent. The updated plan encourages innovation and long-term strategies to restore coastal communities and the environment we all depend on, as well as enhances its commitment to public participation and transparency.

Highlights from the Updated Comprehensive Plan include:

  • Supporting and enhancing collaboration and consistency among all restoration funding (e.g. RESTORE, NRDA, & NFWF);
  • Committing to community engagement and workshops to further develop and coordination restoration efforts across the Gulf Coast;
  • Outlining an annual 3-year strategy for future Funded Priority Project Lists; and,
  • Encouraging science-based reviews of all project proposals, as well as improved project submission guidelines.

While we're encouraged by the Council's commitment to foster better partnerships between all stakeholders (such as the public, non-profits, & intergovernmental) - particularly through facilitating diverse public participation processes - it is equally important that each of the Gulf State-members within the Council formally commit to the same level of participation and facilitation in their own communities. Without the involvement and leadership by state decision-makers - particularly the Council-member designees - and their federal counterparts, a comprehensive restoration vision cannot be truly achieved.

This update to the Comprehensive Plan represents a significant stride for Gulf restoration – both in its planning and implementation. A key component of this updated plan is the Council's emphasis on coordination and consistency throughout all relevant restoration programs. As projects across funding streams can and should compliment one another, convening and facilitating collaboration between RESTORE, Natural Resource Damage Trustees, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and other relevant state and federal agencies will greatly benefit the overall success of each restoration program - encouraging large-scale project development and implementation. This level of coordination is vital to the success of comprehensive, gulf-wide restoration.

Through the end of the month of September, the Council will be hosting meetings across the Gulf Coast to receive public comments on the draft Comprehensive Plan Update.                                                    

The meeting schedule is as follows:

12 September – Panama City, FL
Gulf Coast State College
Language and Literature Building, Room 38
5230 West US Hwy 98
Panama City, FL 32401
Click here for FL Meeting Summary


19 September – New Orleans
University of New Orleans
Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center
2000 Lakeshore Drive
New Orleans, LA 70148
 

20 September – Spanish Fort, AL
5 Rivers Delta Resource Center
30945 Five Rivers Boulevard
Spanish Fort, AL 36527
 

22 September – Long Beach, MS
Open House: 5pm; Meeting: 6pm

University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast
Fleming Education Center Auditorium
730 East Beach Boulevard
Long Beach, MS 39560
 

29 September – Galveston, TX
Open House: 5pm; Meeting: 6pm

Sea Scout Base
7509 Broadway
Galveston, TX 77554

In addition to the in-person meetings in each state, the Council is hosting a webinar version of the public meeting – which will present the same information and provide opportunity to submit comments during the webinar.

4 October – Webinar
2pm CST

Register to attend the webinar here


If you’re interested in providing comments outside of the public meetings, you can submit your comments in the following ways:

Online here
Mail to:      Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
                 Attn: Draft Comprehensive Plan Update Comments
                 Hale Boggs Federal Building
                 500 Poydras Street
                 Suite 1117
                 New Orleans, LA 70130
Email: frcomments@restorecouncil.gov
 

To read the draft Comprehensive Plan Update – both in English and Vietnamese - visit the RESTORE Council’s website for more information. And if you're interested in seeing summaries from each of the state public meetings, the Council will be posting updates throughout the comment period here.

For more information, tune into the informational webinar hosted by Environmental Law Institute, Ocean Conservancy and Gulf Restoration Network on Wednesday, 21 September at 12:00pm CST.

 

Jordan Macha is the Gulf Policy Analyst for the Gulf Restoration Network.

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