Archive for Federal Policy


BP Oil Spill Fines Clear Way for Largest Restoration Effort in U.S. History

April 4, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in BP Oil Disaster, Federal Policy, Media Resources, RESTORE Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Rachel Guillory, Ocean Conservancy, 504.208.5816, rguillory@oceanconservancy.org
Andrew Blejwas, The Nature Conservancy, 617.785.7047, ablejwas@tnc.org 

BP Oil Spill Fines Clear Way for Largest Restoration Effort in U.S. History

State and federal leaders have once-in-a-lifetime window to make good on promises

(NEW ORLEANS – April 4, 2016) Groups working on Gulf restoration lauded news today of the signing of the consent decree between the Department of Justice and BP. The agreement is the final step to settling BP’s penalties for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Groups including Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy, released the following statement:

“Today’s approval by Judge Carl Barbier means that billions of dollars for the largest environmental restoration effort in American history can finally be put to work. Funding under the provisions of the RESTORE Act and for natural resource damages will now be guaranteed for the next 17 years. This is a unique opportunity for state and federal agencies to work together toward a more resilient Gulf of Mexico. If done right, investment in the Gulf can have lasting benefits for the region and the nation.

“Now is a time for big thinking across funding streams. This is a defining moment for the RESTORE Council and Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation leaders and others to all pull together and make good on years of promises for Gulf Coast restoration and resilience.”

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Obama Administration Announces New Leader of Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

March 1, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in Federal Policy, Media Resources, RESTORE Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Rachel Guillory, Ocean Conservancy, 504.208.5816, rguillory@oceanconservancy.org
Andrew Blejwas, The Nature Conservancy, 617.785.7047, ablejwas@tnc.org 

Obama Administration Announces New Leader of Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
U.S. Department of Agriculture Succeeds U.S. Department of Commerce as Council Chair

(Washington, D.C. – March 1, 2016) Today, the Obama Administration announced a new chair for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will replace the U.S. Department of Commerce as the lead agency on the Council, driving restoration planning and implementation as the Gulf states continue to recover from the 2010 Gulf oil disaster.

Groups, including Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy, issued the following statement:

“As the new chair of the RESTORE Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to help lead the largest environmental restoration effort in American history. The USDA is up to this considerable challenge. We look forward to working with them to establish a Comprehensive Plan that includes a clear framework for success.

“We are grateful for the service of the Department of Commerce and Secretary Penny Pritzker as the first chair of the Council. The startup of the RESTORE Council was a huge task, and the Department of Commerce provided important leadership in organizing the Council and securing approval of the first round of projects under the provisions of the RESTORE Act.

“We stand ready to help and support the new chair, the RESTORE Council and its individual state and federal agency members in taking advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use Deepwater Horizon-related funding to advance our mutual goal of Gulf of Mexico restoration.”

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Gulf Restoration Groups Call on Oil Spill Trustees to Run Open Process

February 23, 2016 | Posted by Emily McCalla in BP Oil Disaster, coastal restoration, Federal Policy, Media Resources, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact:
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Rachel Guillory, Ocean Conservancy, 504.208.5816, rguillory@oceanconservancy.org
Andrew Blejwas, The Nature Conservancy, 617.785.7047, ablejwas@tnc.org 

Gulf Restoration Groups Call on Oil Spill Trustees to Run Open Process
Standard Operating Procedures for Spending $7.1 Billion in Funding Should Engage Public 

(New Orleans – February 23, 2016) Gulf restoration advocates are calling on federal agencies to increase transparency and public feedback opportunities as the agencies implement a $7-billion restoration program over the next 15 years. These renewed calls for openness come in response to the release of the Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan, which describes how the BP Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees will plan for, administer and implement restoration efforts.

Groups, including Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy, issued the following statement:

“The Trustees are about to embark on the biggest restoration program in American history. The choices they make now will have repercussions for Gulf ecosystems and communities over the next decade and a half – and potentially for generations to follow.

“As the Trustees develop their Standard Operating Procedures, a key element in the design of this program, we hope they will outline additional opportunities for the public to provide meaningful feedback throughout the restoration process. A lot can change in 5, 10 and 15 years, and the people who live and work in the Gulf should have regular opportunities to engage in this process.

“The Trustees have done a tremendous amount of work, and we’re grateful for their efforts. We were pleased to see the Trustees commit to several measures for coordination across state lines and across funding streams – which will enable more successful restoration.

“We look forward to working with the Trustees to make sure the important work of Gulf restoration gets done right.”

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New study: Cost of not pursuing significant coastal restoration could reach $133 billion

December 21, 2015 | Posted by jhebert in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), coastal restoration, Community Resiliency, Economics, Federal Policy, Hurricanes, Reports, Restore the Coast, Science

By Elizabeth Van Cleve, Communications Manager, Environmental Defense Fund

Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 squares miles of land since the 1930s. Without future action to restore the coast and reverse this trend, the state stands to lose another 1,750 square miles of land by 2060.

This land loss crisis not only impacts the communities, wildlife and ecology of south Louisiana, but it also puts cities, homes, infrastructure and industries at risk. Coastal wetlands serve as a buffer against the effects of waves, storms and sea level rise. The continued loss of wetlands jeopardizes Louisiana’s diverse economy as well as the entire nation that depends on the Mississippi River Delta for shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, tourism and other industries.

A recent study conducted by the Louisiana State University (LSU) and the RAND Corporation aims to measure the future economic impacts of continued coastal land loss. Commissioned by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), “Economic Evaluation of Coastal Land Loss in Louisiana” provides a quantitative understanding of the economic damages caused by wetlands loss if we don’t take action now to restore the coast.

The two-year study measures the projected economic costs associated with continued land loss under future-with-no-action scenario, including projected damages to capital stock, such as buildings, homes and roads; disruption of economic activity, including employment and trade flows; and changes in ecosystem services and related industries, such as fisheries, tourism and recreation.

Key findings from the report include:

  • $2.1-$3.5 billion: Total replacement cost associated with capital stock at risk from land loss
  • $5.8-$7.4 billion: Total annual output (economic activity) at risk from land loss
  • $10-$133 billion: Increase in storm damage to capital stock
  • $5-$51 billion: Total output lost to increased storm damage

“Every dollar we spend today on coastal restoration and protection will save us many, many more dollars in the future,” said CPRA Board Chairman Chip Kline in a press release. “But beyond being cost-feasible, we’re talking about saving lives, families, homes, business and our way of life. This study by LSU and RAND is important in making our case to Congress and the nation that it is better for many reasons to spend now rather than later.”

Read the full report on CPRA’s website here.

The Times-Picayune (video): Coastal erosion, hurricane could cost Louisiana $133 billion

Learn more about how coastal restoration is important to the economy at OurCoastOurEconomy.org.

RANDLSUCoastalEconomicsStudy

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Funding for Louisiana Coastal Area Program Included in Omnibus Spending Bill

December 17, 2015 | Posted by jhebert in Army Corps of Engineers, coastal restoration, Congress, Federal Policy, Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA), Media Resources, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org

Funding for Louisiana Coastal Area Program Included in Omnibus Spending Bill

Money Will Help Advance Critical Coastal Restoration Projects

(WASHINGTON—Dec. 17, 2015) Yesterday, the U.S. Congress unveiled a year-end spending bill that includes more than $10 million in funding for the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Program. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 is expected to be approved in coming days by the full Congress. This funding includes $10 million for LCA Beneficial Use of Dredged Materials (BUD Mat) Construction and $50,000 for LCA General Investigations and reflects a request in the President’s FY 16 budget. These levels were previously included in both U.S. House and U.S. Senate versions of FY 16 Energy and Water Appropriations bills.

National and local conservation groups working together on Mississippi River Delta restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – released the following statement:

“We commend Congressional leaders and the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for including critical funding for the Louisiana Coastal Area Program in this year-end spending bill. LCA projects will help restore critical wetlands throughout the Mississippi River Delta, which will protect Louisiana’s vital coastal infrastructure and natural resources. We would especially like to thank the Louisiana Congressional delegation for their bipartisan efforts and dedication to Louisiana’s coast.

“The Mississippi River Delta is home to more than 2 million people and countless wildlife and birds, and is an economic engine for the entire nation, providing billions of dollars in economic activity. Ten years after Hurricane Katrina and five years after the Gulf oil disaster, this funding provides a critical opportunity to advance much-needed coastal restoration. We are gratified by the commitment to restoration the Obama Administration and Congress have shown in advancing the restoration program in fiscal year 2016, and we look forward to continued progress in the years ahead.

“The state of Louisiana has included many LCA projects in its 2012 Coastal Master Plan, and this funding is an important down payment in the effort to move that important suite of projects forward along the path to completion. Our organizations look forward to working with the state of Louisiana and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on seeing these Louisiana Coastal Area Program projects through from engineering and design to implementation.”

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at MississippiRiverDelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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$52.2 million in oil spill funds approved for Louisiana coastal restoration

December 15, 2015 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, BP Oil Disaster, coastal restoration, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), Restoration Projects, RESTORE Act

By Elizabeth Weiner, Senior Policy Manager, Environmental Defense Fund

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Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce and Chair of the RESTORE Council. Dec. 9, 2015. Credit: Robert Smith/Wildlife Mississippi

Last week, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council approved its first Funded Priorities List (FPL) of projects and programs to fund with civil penalties available from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Transocean settlement. This is an important step forward for the entire Gulf Coast that is still recovering from the spill. In particular for the Mississippi River Delta, the FPL demonstrates both the state of Louisiana’s commitment to funding Coastal Master Plan projects with RESTORE dollars and progress in implementing the master plan.

Louisiana submitted five project proposals, all of which are projects from the Coastal Master Plan. While these projects are still in planning phases, they represent critical near-term opportunities to keep the Mississippi River Delta on its path to recovery and sustainability. The Louisiana master plan projects receiving funding include:

Two additional projects, Jean Lafitte Canal Backfilling ($8.7 million; implementation) and Bayou Dularge Ridge, Marsh and Hydrologic Restoration ($5.2 million; planning), are also located in Louisiana and were included in the Council’s FPL. These two projects, submitted for funding by federal members of the RESTORE Council, are complementary to and consistent with the Coastal Master Plan and will directly benefit coastal Louisiana.

The RESTORE Council meeting in Biloxi, Miss. Dec. 9, 2015. Credit: Robert Smith/Wildlife Mississippi

The RESTORE Council meeting in Biloxi, Miss. Dec. 9, 2015. Credit: Robert Smith/Wildlife Mississippi

The finalization of this FPL comes in follow-up to positive progress made through other Gulf oil spill funding streams – the National Fish and Wildlife Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, created by criminal plea agreements with multiple responsible parties, and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDA) process.

Now that BP’s settlement of civil penalties and responsibilities under NRDA is pending, both the RESTORE Council and the NRDA Trustee Council will be able to make even more progress, with an eye toward large-scale restoration. For the RESTORE Council, the next step will be an update to its Initial Comprehensive Plan to improve decision-making, project selection, and to consider the projects planned and funded through the other oil spill funding streams. For the NRDA Trustees, their next step will be considering public comments and finalizing the draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan.

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RESTORE Council Votes to Approve Priority List of Gulf Restoration Projects for Funding

December 9, 2015 | Posted by jhebert in BP Oil Disaster, Federal Policy, Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Media Resources, Restoration Projects, RESTORE Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RESTORE Council Votes to Approve Priority List of Gulf Restoration Projects for Funding

(December 9, 2015 – Biloxi, Miss.) Today, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council voted to approve its first Funded Priorities List (FPL) – a compilation of restoration projects the Council will prioritize for funding and implementation following the 2010 Gulf oil disaster. This set of projects will be funded by a portion of RESTORE Act dollars designated for ecosystem restoration from the Transocean Clean Water Act settlement.

National and local conservation organizations working on Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River Delta restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – released the following statement in response to today’s announcement:

“We congratulate the RESTORE Council and staff on their efforts to finalize this Funded Priorities List. Our organizations look forward to continuing to monitor projects as they move into the implementation phase.

“Additionally, now that the BP settlement is near final, the RESTORE Council and the Gulf states have a tremendous opportunity ahead to achieve broader meaningful restoration and lasting resilience for the essential ecosystems of the Gulf. However, with certainty around funding levels, the Council will be faced with difficult decisions. In order to make progress toward comprehensive restoration, the Council will need a science-based process for prioritizing future projects, with a focus on more large-scale proposals. With the first BP settlement payments on the horizon, it is essential that the Council promptly turn its attention to updating the Comprehensive Plan, so that it can serve as a tool to guide future investments around the Gulf. We stand ready to assist the Council and staff as they undertake this critical next step.”

Media Contact:

Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Rachel Guillory, Ocean Conservancy, 504.208.5816, rguillory@oceanconservancy.org
Andrew Blejwas, The Nature Conservancy, 617.785.7047, ablejwas@tnc.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, johnlopez@saveourlake.org

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Coast 2050's Lasting Impacts on Coastal Restoration

November 5, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA), Restoration Projects, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

By Estelle Robichaux, Restoration Project Analyst, Environmental Defense Fund and Gaby Garcia, Science Intern, Environmental Defense Fund

This post is part of a series on early restoration planning in Louisiana. Be sure to check out our previous posts: part one, part two and part three.

Since the early 1990's, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Preservation, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) has been providing a steady funding stream for Louisiana coastal restoration, averaging about $45 million per year. Yet despite this funding commitment, at the time, there was still a void in actionable, systematic restoration planning for coastal Louisiana.

Seeing a need, the Louisiana State Wetlands Authority and the CWPRRA Task Force collaborated to develop Coast 2050, a strategic plan for creating an enduring and sustainable Louisiana coast. Approved in 1998, the plan was a consensus-based, stakeholder-informed initiative that received explicit support from all 20 coastal parishes.

Louisiana coastal parishes

Louisiana's coastal parishes

This comprehensive plan takes a regional perspective on restoration, based on three strategic goals:

  • To create and sustain marsh by accumulating sediment and plant matter;
  • To maintain habitat diversity by varying salinities and protecting key land forms; and
  • To maintain ecosystem connections so there is exchange of energy, plants, and animals.

By focusing on these guiding principles, the participants in this collaborative effort were able to generate a plan that relies on a variety of restoration tools – from shoreline protection and marsh creation to the reintroduction of fresh water and sediment to deteriorating wetlands.

From Coast 2050 to LCA Study

The Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration Study was an outgrowth of Coast 2050 that took the plan’s restoration concepts and strategies and formulated them into more specific project ideas that could be analyzed and studied.

The overall goal of the LCA study was to reverse the trend of coastal ecosystem degradation, with a specific focus on using restoration strategies that would reintroduce historic flows of river water, nutrients and sediment to the coastal wetlands.

The results of the study, which were finalized and published in 2004, identify 15 projects categorized as ‘critical near-term features.’ This means that the project or action addresses essential ecological needs of coastal Louisiana in areas where delaying action would result in greater future restoration costs and possibly a loss of opportunity for restoration.

Although the approved LCA plan and these 15 critical near-term projects were included in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, no funds were actually appropriated for this work. Meaning that while the U.S. Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to work on these coastal restoration projects, they did not give them any money to do it.

Coast 2050’s Lasting Impacts

Many of the recommended actions and priorities advanced in Coast 2050 have had a lasting imprint on restoration planning in Louisiana, by setting the stage for project ideas that became a part of the LCA Ecosystem Restoration Study and, eventually, the 2012 Coastal Master Plan.

Coast2050 LCA projects w arrows ER

Coast 2050, Louisiana Coastal Area and 2012 Coastal Master Plan projects (click to enlarge)

Despite the lack of funds and forward momentum in implementing the LCA plan over the past decade, these projects and ideas – that will have a great benefit to the ecosystem and are strongly rooted in science – are finally advancing through the state’s Coastal Master Plan and oil spill-related funding.

Many of these are priority projects for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, because they are based in sound science, have been planned and studied for a long time and are key to comprehensive and sustainable coastal restoration. While implementation of some of these projects has been slow, we expect that many of them will see greater progress now that the results of the basin-wide modeling effort have been announced, CPRA’s recent recommendation to move forward the Mid Barataria and Mid Breton sediment diversions into engineering and design, and as more funding becomes available through the pending BP settlement.

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Governor Jindal’s Plan to Redirect Coastal Restoration Funding is Bad for Louisiana

October 9, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), coastal restoration, Media Resources, RESTORE Act, Restore the Coast

Governor Jindal’s Plan to Redirect Coastal Restoration Funding is Bad for Louisiana

Conservation Groups Launch Ad Campaign Opposing Jindal Funding Proposal

(New Orleans – Oct. 9, 2015) A coalition of local and national conservation groups will sponsor paid print and online advertisements in newspapers across south Louisiana this weekend opposing Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to redirect money from the Coastal Master Plan to fund the elevation of Louisiana Highway 1.

The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition – which includes Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation – implores in the ads “Protect our Coastal Master Plan funding. Tell the Governor NO.”

By asking the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to use any “excess” restoration funds to pay for elevating LA-1, Gov. Jindal is trying to walk away from the state’s commitment to preserve coastal funding for projects in the state’s Master Plan.

“While the money from the BP criminal and civil fines will jumpstart our efforts to restore the coast, it won’t come close to finishing the job. That is why it’s crucial to protect every dime of restoration money,” said Steve Cochran, campaign director for Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. “Redirecting funds is a slippery slope that weakens our state’s credibility, threatens our ability to secure future funding and puts our future at risk.”

The print advertisements will run in the Times-Picayune, The Advocate, Plaquemines Gazette, St. Bernard Voice, Daily Comet, Houma Courier and The (Lafayette) Advertiser.

The coalition is also urging the public to write Gov. Jindal in opposition to his plan and to speak out against the proposal at the Oct. 21 meeting of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority in Baton Rouge, when the issue is scheduled to be considered. For more information, visit ProtectTheFunding.org.

The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition has also launched the “Restore the Coast” community engagement campaign to highlight the important role Louisiana’s elected officials play in coastal restoration. This multifaceted, nonpartisan education campaign asks voters to sign a pledge urging leaders to: be a voice for coastal restoration, protect existing and secure future coastal restoration funding, and support Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan. Learn more at RestoreTheCoast.org.

Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is a joint effort of non-profit organizations made up of science, public policy, economics and outreach experts working to raise awareness and build support for science-based solutions to restore Louisiana’s coast.

Contacts

Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.767.4181, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org

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Conservation Groups Pleased to See Gulf Restoration Efforts Advance

October 5, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in BP Oil Disaster, Federal Policy, Media Resources, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), RESTORE Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, evancleve@edf.org
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849, jhebert@audubon.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.767.4181, jimmy.frederick@crcl.org
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, jlopez@saveourlake.org

Conservation Groups Pleased to See Gulf Restoration Efforts Advance

NRDA Trustees Release 1,500-Page Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan

(NEW ORLEANS – October 5, 2015) Today, the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees released their draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP) for the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 oil disaster. The U.S. Department of Justice, BP and the five Gulf states also released their proposed Consent Decree to finalize the $20.8 billion agreement in principle resolving state and federal government claims against BP from the Gulf oil disaster.

In response to these announcements, national and local conservation organizations working on Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River Delta restoration – Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – released the following statement:

“More than five years after the oil disaster, we are encouraged to see Gulf restoration move forward with release of the NRDA Trustees’ draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan. While we have not yet engaged on the details of the plan, we applaud the Trustees for their work to get to this point.

“The oil disaster damaged hundreds of miles of shoreline; killed more than one million birds, mammals and other wildlife – and we will not know the full environmental effects of the spill for decades to come. The NRDA process will help bring the Gulf back to the state it was before the spill, and the release of this plan is a positive step toward that end. It is also encouraging to see the concept of maximizing sediment delivery included in the DARP, and the recognition of the potential value of that approach through river diversions.

“We are also pleased to see forward movement on finalizing the settlement with BP. Once the consent decree is approved, it will provide a steady funding stream to the Gulf – funds that are vital to the restoration and long-term ecological health of the region. In Louisiana, this money will help fund the state’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.

“The health of the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast ecosystems is important not only to the communities and economies of the region, but to the entire nation that depends on the Gulf for ports, energy, seafood, tourism and other important industries.

“Today’s announcements get us one step closer to realizing a restored and revitalized Gulf Coast. We look forward to working with the NRDA Trustees on finalizing their plans.”

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at MississippiRiverDelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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