How do you think Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) funds should be used?

endangered Alabama beach mouse – photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceTwo years ago BP promised $1 billion dollars of Early Restoration to kickstart the recovery of the natural resources damaged by their oil. Recently, the Gulf States have announced a new round of projects that they intend to fund with the Early Restoration dollars from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). In a departure from what seemed like a genuine dedication to investing these funds in true ecosystem restoration, the states announced a slate of projects that less focused on restoring natural resources and more focused on economic developmentWhile this new suite of proposed projects is heavily investing in environmental restoration like marsh creation and barrier islands, too much of this money is being dedicated to projects that will likely cause more environmental harm.We’ve talked before about Alabama’s proposal to spend $80 million on a hotel and conference center in Gulf State Park atop critical habitat for the endangered Alabama beach mouse. This is money that is supposed to be used to mitigate against lost ecosystem services or human use of those ecosystem services. There will certainly be some legal maneuvers to fit this new beach front development into those requirements.The NRDA Trustees are holding public meetings about the Early Restoration projects and the environmental impacts this week in Mississippi and Louisiana.Please try to attend one the meetings this week and let the Trustees know that this money needs to be spent restoring the damaged environment. Download these talking pointsWhen: Tuesday July 16 at 6:30 pm – 9:00 pmWhere: USM FEC Auditorium 730 East Beach Blvd Long Beach, MS 39560When: Thursday July 18 at 6:30 pm – 9:00 pmWhere:Courtyard Marriott 142 Library Blvd Houma, LA 70360The biggest impact that BP’s oil has had is on the environment, which the Gulf Communities depend on for their economy. Investing restoration dollars in the environment will restore the economy and it’s time that these decision makers understand that.Michelle Erenberg is the coordinator of Gulf Future, a gulf-wide collaborative effort to hold BP accountable. For more information

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