Contact: Raleigh Hoke, Mississippi Organizer, 504-525-1528, ext. 204 or Raleigh@healthygulf.org
After Release of Go Coast 2020 Report, Much Work Yet to be Done
Statement on Go Coast 2020 by Gulf Restoration Network
The release of the Go Coast 2020 Final Report, a blueprint for Mississippi’s use of RESTORE Act funds, is an important step on the road to restoration for Mississippi in the wake of the BP disaster, but much still needs to be done to ensure the long-term health and resilience of Mississippi’s coast and communities. Congress passed the RESTORE Act with bipartisan support and their intention wasn’t to provide an economic stimulus package for the 5 Gulf States – they voted for it to restore the national treasures of the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems.
The Eco-restoration portion of the final report does a good job of surveying restoration needs on the Coast, and existing programs, like the Mississippi Coastal Improvement Program, that could help drive restoration. However, ecosystem restoration must be central to all the GoCoast 2020 goals, and that isn’t always the case in this report.
The Workforce section misses the mark since it completely ignores the Mississippi Jobs First Act and barely mentions emerging opportunities for local workers in coastal and marine restoration. The Jobs Act is designed to give local workers a leg up in finding employment from work financed through BP fines and other disasters, and it must be more fully considered in the Go Coast 2020 plan. Studies show every million dollars invested in ecosystem restoration creates between 17-36 jobs, on par or greater than the direct impact of many road, port and energy infrastructure construction projects.
While the GoCoast 2020 Report is a welcome stop towards restoring Mississippi’s coast, glaring omissions, like failing to thoroughly examine opportunities for workers in the restoration economy, bring into question its credibility. We hope that, moving forward, the Governor and other state leaders will work with Coast residents and the public to improve this blueprint, and ultimately build a healthier and more resilient coastal ecosystem that supports a vibrant economy for generations to come.
Any portion of this statement may be quoted with attribution to Raleigh Hoke, Mississippi Organizer with the Gulf Restoration Network.