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Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Approves Initial Comprehensive Plan: Restoring the Gulf Coast’s Ecosystem and Economy

The Initial Comprehensive Plan was unanimously approved by the Council on August 28, 2013.

 

May 23, 2013

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council marked significant progress today with the public release of the Draft Initial Comprehensive Plan: Restoring the Gulf Coast’s Ecosystem and Economy and accompanying Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for formal public comment. The Draft Plan provides a framework to implement a coordinated region-wide restoration effort in a way that restores, protects, and revitalizes the Gulf Coast region following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Draft Plan establishes overarching restoration goals for the Gulf Coast region; provides details about how the Council will solicit, evaluate, and fund projects and programs for ecosystem restoration in the Gulf Coast region; outlines the process for the development, review, and approval of State Expenditure Plans; and highlights the Council’s next steps. The Council expects to release a Final Plan this summer.

Along with the release of the Draft Plan, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Council Chair announced today that Justin Ehrenwerth will serve as the Executive Director of the Council. These steps signify the Council’s efforts to ensure that it is ready to move efficiently and effectively to implement a restoration plan once funds are received.

“As Chair of the Council, I am proud to announce that my Chief of Staff, Justin Ehrenwerth, will move into the role of Executive Director of the Council. I can think of no better person to help the Council continue to move forward with implementing a plan that ensures the long-term health, prosperity, and resilience of the Gulf Coast,” said Council Chair Blank.

In order to ensure robust public input throughout the entire process, the Council is hosting a series of public engagement sessions in each of the five impacted Gulf States in June to give the public the opportunity to provide input on the Draft Plan and the Council’s restoration planning efforts. The 30-day formal public comment period for the Draft Plan and associated documents begins today, May 23, and ends June 24. Public meetings to discuss the Draft Plan are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

June 3, 2013
5:30 - 9:00 pm CST
Escambia County Board of County Commission Chambers
Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building
221 Palafox Place
Pensacola, FL 32502

June 5, 2013
6:00pm CST
The Tensaw Theater at 5 Rivers
Alabama’s Delta Resource Center
30945 Five Rivers Boulevard
Spanish Fort, Alabama

June 10, 2013
6:00-8:00 pm CST
Texas A&M University, Galveston
200 Seawolf Parkway, Bldg 3007
Galveston, TX 77554

June 11, 2013
6:00 pm CST (registration begins at 5:00 pm CST)
Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center
2350 Beach Blvd
Biloxi, MS 39531

June 12, 2013
6:30 pm CST (doors open at 6:00 pm CST)
Belle Chasse Auditorium
8398 Louisiana Hwy 23
Belle Chasse, LA 70037

June 17, 2013
5:30 – 9:00 pm EST
Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commissions’ Fish & Wildlife Research Institute
100 Eighth Ave. SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

We Want to Hear from You

From May 23, 2013 to June 24, 2013 you will be able to submit your input and comments to the Council here. While the Council is seeking public comment on all aspects of the Draft Plan, we also ask that you consider the following questions:

  1. The Draft Plan includes restoration Priority Criteria established in the RESTORE Act and applicable to the Council’s selection of projects and programs for at least the first three years after publication of the Initial Comprehensive Plan. The Council is considering further defining these criteria and developing additional criteria for consideration.
    1. Should the Council further define the Priority Criteria? If so, how?
    2. Should the Council develop additional criteria for consideration now or in the future? If so, what should they be?
  2. The “Objectives” section of the Draft Plan describes the broad types of activities the Council envisions funding in order to achieve its goals.
    1. Should the Council consider other Objectives at this juncture? If not, at what point, if any, should the Council consider additional Objectives? If so, what should they be?
    2. Similarly, should the Council eliminate any of the Objectives?
    3. How should the Council prioritize its restoration Objectives?
  3. The Council is considering establishing or engaging advisory committees as may be necessary, such as a citizens’ advisory committee and/or a science advisory committee, to provide input to the Council in carrying out its responsibilities under the RESTORE Act.
    1. Should the Council establish any advisory committees?
    2. If so, what type of advisory committees should the Council establish? How should the Council structure such advisory committees? What role should such advisory committees play?

See the Federal Register Notice for additional information and details.

Background on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

The Council, which was established by the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourism, Opportunities Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), will help restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region by developing and overseeing implementation of a Comprehensive Plan and carrying out other responsibilities. The Deepwater Horizon 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 in the wake of the spill, Congress passed the bipartisan RESTORE Act. The Act dedicates 80 percent of any civil and administrative penalties paid under the Clean Water Act by responsible parties in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund (the Trust Fund) for ecosystem restoration, economic recovery, and tourism promotion in the Gulf Coast region.

Attachments

Draft Initial Plan (PDF 621kb)

Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PDF 1.1MB)

Appendix A - Background Information - Preliminary List of Authorized but Not Commenced Projects and Programs (PDF 258kb)

PLAN PRELIMINAR INTEGRAL: Restauración del Ecosistema y la Economía de la Costa del Golfo (PDF 166kb)

For media inquiries please contact Sarah Horowitz at 202-482-4883.