Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to Hold First Public Meeting in Mobile

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The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will hold its first public meeting at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Alabama on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Established by the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourism, Opportunities Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (a.k.a. the Restore Act), the council will develop and oversee implementation of a comprehensive plan to help restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, according to a press release from the White House.

The council is comprised of governors from the five affected Gulf States, the Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security as well as the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Gulf States selected and President Obama appointed the Secretary of Commerce as the Council’s Chair.

It will work with the state and local communities to identify projects and programs that will restore the region’s natural resources and help benefit local businesses, boost their economies and create jobs.

“In order to ensure robust public input throughout the entire process, the council will hold several public meetings and listening sessions in each of the Gulf states in the coming months,” according to the press release.

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and other federal, state and local officials will participate in the meeting, which will ostensibly give the public the opportunity to learn about the council and provide feedback on the council’s restoration planning efforts during a designated public comment period.

The meeting is open to the public and the media and there will be an open microphone public comment period from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To learn more about the Gulf Restoration Council and Restore Act, there is a Website for it.

About the Restore Act

The oil spill caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast’s natural resources, devastating the economies and communities that rely on it. In an effort to help the region rebuild, Congress passed the bipartisan Restore Act, which dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties paid by responsible parties after the date of enactment of this act in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Region for ecological and economic recovery efforts.

This law will likely generate investments in economic development, tourism promotion and science-based natural resource restoration in the states hit hardest by the spill — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

The Restore Act sets forth the following framework for allocation of the trust fund:

* 35 percent of the money divided equally between the five Gulf States for ecological and economic restoration efforts in the region;

* 30 percent of the money through the council to implement a comprehensive plan for ecosystem and economic recovery of the Gulf Coast;

* 30 percent of the money for states’ plans based on impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill;

* 2.5 percent of the money to create the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program within the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and

* 2.5 percent of the money to the Centers of Excellence Research grants, which will each focus on science, technology and monitoring related to Gulf restoration.

© 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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