As October approaches, Obama’s Task Force on Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration faces a deadline to develop a strategic plan to renew the gulf coast ecosystem.
While BP will be fined heavily for the oil spill, which dumped around 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico in late April of last year, it is still unclear how the fine money will be allocated.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will soon vote on legislation that, if passed, will fund Obama’s restoration task force, and enact the bill, RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act. This bill would assign 80% of BP’s fine money to restoring the environment, economy, and community in the Gulf. However, under current law, all BP fine money would go to general government spending.
Some of the recommendations, as seen on PR Newswire,
- Restoration activities should provide both environmental and social benefits.
- Ensure sufficient delivery of freshwater flows to the Gulf in order to maintain ecological health of bays and estuaries.
- Restore populations of endangered marine mammals, where their probability of extinction in the 100 years is less than 1%.
- Construct and operate a series of large-scale diversions of freshwater and sediment from the Mississippi River sufficient to build and sustain Delta wetlands to provide storm surge protection for people and restore habitat for economically vital fisheries.
The recommendation booklet, entitled Strategy for Restoring the Gulf of Mexico, can be viewedhere.
Cindy Brown of the Nature Conservancy simply states: “The Gulf suffered the brunt of the spill and the fines should be used to bring the Gulf back to health.”
In addition to submitting a restoration plan, these organizations also promised to maintain a relationship with federal and state lawmakers to affirm the continued and diligent restoration of the Gulf.
I’ll end with this great statement from Chris Canfield of the National Audubon Society:
“Although born of tragedy, there is a tremendous opportunity now for recovery of the Gulf. But we must think big. We must look and work across political and organizational boundaries. We know how to restore the Mississippi River Delta, to bring back wetlands and barrier islands, to make a better home for birds, fish and our communities. All we need is the resolve to do it.”