Commentary | July 12, 2021

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council has announced $302 million in funding to address ecosystem needs across throughout the Gulf of Mexico  

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council approved $302 million in funding in April for marine restoration of those states impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The funds will support 20 programs and projects. 

The Coast Guard partners with many government agencies, external groups, and organizations, including the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council), to fulfill the Coast Guard’s mission of protecting the ocean and safeguarding coastal habitats.  

Marine Environmental Protection is one of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions, and the service’s duties include, among other things, developing and enforcing regulations to stop unauthorized ocean dumping, and preventing and responding to oil and chemical spills that threaten marine waters. 

“This $302 million investment is an opportunity to collaborate efforts to improve coastal ecology that have far-reaching effects,” said Capt. Kirsten R. Trego, Deputy Director of Emergency Management. “Collectively, where possible, our efforts will maximize sustainable environmental benefits and pay off to restore the health of the Gulf for the wildlife, habitat, and marine resources for future generations.” 

The RESTORE Council was established in 2012 by the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act), a federal law enacted in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  

The RESTORE Council consists of the governors of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, along with the secretaries of the departments of Agriculture, the Army, Commerce, Homeland Security, the Interior, and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

The Coast Guard represents the Department of Homeland Security on the Council and shares the goal of restoring the ecosystem and the economy of the Gulf Coast region with other Council members. Through its participation on the Council and through work undertaken at the regional and local levels, the Coast Guard seeks opportunities to leverage its competencies and capabilities in furtherance of the Comprehensive Plan for Gulf Restoration. 

With an April vote, the RESTORE Council approved Funded Priorities List (FPL) 3b. Council approval of FPL 3b (following earlier action to approve FPL3a in February, 2020): provides funding for large-scale programs to address water quality and quantity, habitat acquisition and conservation, coastal resilience, beach nourishment, and other ecosystem restoration needs. The projects funded through FPL 3b were developed through collaboration among RESTORE Council members with input from Gulf Coast  partners. 

The Coast Guard is the lead federal authority for preparedness and response for oil discharges and hazardous substance releases in the Coastal Zone. Accordingly, the Coast Guard advocates for approaches that will best protect these investments in restoration and for advance planning and preparedness in the event that future oil spills or hazmat releases may threaten them. 

“Given the myriad uses of the Gulf waters, the Coast Guard looks forward to working with Council members to address spill planning and response related to environmental restoration projects, and to address any other homeland security equities that may come into play as projects are implemented,” said Steven M. Tucker, Technical Program Advisor for the Coast Guard’s RESTORE Initiative. 

Additional information on the projects and programs included in FPL 3b as well as prior FPL activities can be found on the RESTORE Council’s website.  

Learn more if you are interested in a career in Marine and Environmental Sciences in the Coast Guard

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