Gulf Coast Task Force Releases Ecosystem Restoration Strategy

Last week, the White House’s Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (Task Force) took a significant steptowards restoring the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of BP’s oil drilling disaster, but there is still, of course, a long road to restoration. Created by the President and lead by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the Task Force has been charged with creating a framework and plan for restoring the Gulf in the wake of the BP drilling disaster.The preliminary strategy for restoration lays out good basic prescriptions for restoring the Gulf, and we’re certainly encouraged to see such engagement from the federal government. Unfortunately, the “new” strategy provides little beyond what was previously known and lacks the specifics we had hoped to see.While we support the Draft Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Strategy”s Gulf-wide scope and apparent intent to achieve a functioning and productive Gulf ecosystem, the strategy should provide an overarching framework to address both injured natural resources and lost ecological services due to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, as well as more systemic problems, such as the on-going loss of coastal wetlands and formation of the hypoxic zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The strategy fails to set forth a focused restoration agenda with measurable goals and objectives. Nor does it identify funds that can be directed to identified priorities and effective programs or projects.Over the last year, members of gulf coast communities attended meetings and listening sessions held in all five Gulf states, echoing the same concerns. However, some of these concerns, it seems, were not heard. As stressed in each of the public meetings, the goals of the Final Strategy should address the need for coastal community economic restoration and sustainability as well as environmental restoration. There is a potential for billions of dollars in restoration and recovery funding which provides an opportunity to build a framework to tackle the economic challenges that face the Gulf’s coastal communities.We know that long-term monitoring will be key to judging the process of both the implemented restoration projects and the strategy as a whole. We strongly believe that the Final Strategy must ensure that all restoration decisions are rooted in science so that project selection and funding allocations that will create an effective region-wide restoration strategy. The Task Force should create a Science Advisory Committee to provide independent input on restoration project selection, implementation, and monitoring processes.Further, the Task Force has yet to select the members of the Citizen Advisory Committee. This committee will ensure the voice of our communities is incorporated in restoraion planning and implimentation. It is unlcear why there were so many calls for community input into this strategy, if little of that input was incorporated into the strategy.The threats to the Gulf are significant and growing, it’s critical our nation embrace a bold vision, backed by measurable, specific actions to put this precious natural resource on a path towards sustainability. There is much promise in the efforts of the Task Force, but much more to be done.You can make your voice heard on this strategy hereMichelle Erenberg is the Coordinator for the Gulf Future Coalition. Find out more at

Scroll to Top