On Thursday, June 26, 2014, the Federal and State natural resources Trustees released the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) and Phase III Early Restoration Plan (ERP) for the Gulf Coast Early Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA). The final PEIS considers comprehensive restoration planning and alternatives for the Gulf Coast region that would restore the natural resources injured by the BP drilling disaster and the public’s loss of recreational use. Additionally, 44 projects were selected for implementation in the third phase of NRDA Early Restoration.
The final PEIS and Phase III ERP give the public a better understanding of the Trustees’ approach to restoration in the aftermath of the BP oil disaster. The nine ecological projects chosen by Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, costing approximately $397 million, are solid projects that will help restore our natural environment.
Unfortunately, despite significant public outcry, Alabama is squandering $58.5 out its $93.7 million share of the funds to ‘restore’ the public’s ability to look at the beach through the window of a conference or hotel room in the Gulf State Park. The proposed Alabama Lodge and Conference Center, a private endeavor exhausting public funds, is a serious misuse of restoration dollars that could provide much needed resources to our damaged ecosystem. Our coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy Gulf, and these precious restoration dollars cannot be spent on short-sighted projects that will not revitalize our Coast.
In its current iteration, the Texas Trustee has not joined in the issuance of the final PEIS and Phase III ERP. It is unfortunate that the state Trustees could not come to a unified decision on the final issuance of this restoration plan and projects. This programmatic approach should benefit the entire Gulf Coast, and we hope a united agreement can ultimately be achieved.
Any portion of this statement may be quoted with attribution to Jordan Macha, Gulf Policy Analyst,
Gulf Restoration Network.
Gulf Restoration Network is a 20-year-old non-profit dedicated to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the health of the Gulf of Mexico.