Archive for Job Creation
Hearing follows two new reports recommending Congress use oil spill fines to restore Gulf
(Washington, D.C.—Dec. 7, 2011) Groups supporting restoration of the Gulf Coast today thanked House leaders on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for drawing attention to the benefits of the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act of 2011 by holding a committee hearing on the bill today at 10am. The RESTORE Act would ensure that fines paid by BP and the other parties responsible for last year’s Gulf oil spill are used to support both environmental and economic restoration in the region, instead of going to unrelated federal spending.
“Holding those responsible for the Gulf oil disaster accountable and making sure the fines they pay go back to the Gulf region is both a matter of fairness and common sense,” said a joint statement by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy and Oxfam America. “We thank Chairman Mica and ranking member Rahall for holding a full committee hearing on this critical issue. Our thanks also go to leaders throughout the Gulf region who are working across the aisle to get this bill passed, so the ecosystems of the Gulf can continue to be a driver of our nation’s economy and a safe home to the communities that make it a national treasure.”
A bipartisan group of nine Gulf senators have introduced a similar bill in the Senate, also called the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act (S. 1400). The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee overwhelmingly approved the bill in September.
Today’s hearing comes on the heels of Monday’s release of the final report by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. It recommends Congress ensure that a “significant portion” of the $5 billion to $21 billion in expected fines for last year’s 4.9 million barrel Gulf oil spill go to restoring the Gulf.
Duke University also released a report on Monday concluding the Gulf oil spill fines could kick start the launch of a long-term investment in ecosystem restoration and create jobs that would benefit at least 140 businesses with nearly 400 employee locations in 37 states.
Sean Crowley, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.572.3331, firstname.lastname@example.org
David J. Ringer, National Audubon Society, 601.642.7058 email@example.com
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather Layman, The Nature Conservancy, 703.475.1733, email@example.com
David Willett, Ocean Conservancy, 202.351.0465, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey Buchanan, Oxfam America, 202.471.3055, email@example.comNo Comments
Economic Study Released 2 Days Before House Hearing on RESTORE Act
(Tallahassee, FL–December 5, 2011) The Clean Water Act penalties from last year’s BP oil disaster could kick start the launch of a long-term investment in ecosystem restoration and create jobs that would benefit at least 140 businesses with nearly 400 employee locations in 37 states, including more than 260 in the Gulf Coast and nearly 60 in Florida, according to a new Duke University study. The report—“RESTORING THE GULF COAST: New Markets for Established Firms,” funded by Environmental Defense Fund—is based on a sample of 140 firms linked to coastal restoration projects already undertaken or completed.
“Long-term ecosystem restoration would be an economic grand slam because it both protects current jobs in key Florida industries—like fishing, tourism, and shipping—and creates new jobs,” said Jackie Prince Roberts, director of sustainable technologies for Environmental Defense Fund. “A study of Everglades restoration by Mather Economics—based on data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—estimates that every $1 million of public investment in restoring the Everglades would create about 20 jobs. Our study helps Florida residents understand where those jobs can be created, and the opportunity Florida has to be a leader in this new industry sector that provides ecosystem restoration services to the Gulf, and to meet emerging global demand."
The study’s release is timely because the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine bipartisan legislation, the RESTORE Act (H.R. 3096), that would dedicate 80 percent of the estimated $5-21 billion in Clean Water Act fines from the 4.9 million barrel spill to restoring the Gulf. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee already has approved the Senate version of the bill (S. 1400), cosponsored by nine of the 10 Gulf state senators, including Florida’s Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R).
“Restoration projects activate a full supply chain linking materials providers, equipment manufacturers, shipbuilders, machinery repair firms, engineering and construction contractors, and environmental resource firms,” the report says. “Many of the firms are based in the Gulf Coast region. Having long worked in the marine construction industry building oil and gas industry infrastructure, they can apply the same skills and equipment to coastal restoration, thus finding new markets and a more diverse client base.”
“Coastal habitat restoration typically creates at least 3-4 times as many jobs as road infrastructure or oil and gas projects for every $1 million invested,” said Keith Bowers, president of Biohabitats, Inc., a conservation planning, ecological restoration and regenerative design firm that does restoration work in the Everglades, Big Cypress and Tampa Bay, FL, Texas and Louisiana, and has offices in Baltimore, MD; Louisville, KY; Raleigh, NC; North Charleston, SC, Denver, CO; Cleveland, OH; Glen Ridge, NJ; and Santa Fe, NM. “This study proves ecological restoration can be a real catalyst for job creation, economic vitality and ecosystem resiliency. Passing the RESTORE Act could help restore the fishing and tourism industries in Florida and the other Gulf Coast states.”
Two-thirds of the firms sampled have offices in the Gulf Coast and qualify as small businesses, according to Small Business Administration guidelines on number of employees. One of the firms is Taylor Engineering, an employee-owned design firm Taylor Engineering that restored seven miles of critically eroded beaches battered by hurricanes in Walton County and the city of Destin in Okaloosa County and has full-service offices in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach, and local-service offices in Tampa and Destin, FL, Savannah, GA, Baltimore, MD, and Columbia, SC. The firm has provided a life-cycle commitment to the art and science of delivering sustainable solutions in the water environment since 1983.
“If our customer base picks up in response to RESTORE funding, there would be a positive and sustainable long-term impact on our hiring,” said James Marino, P.E., President of Taylor Engineering, and a certified Diplomat in Coastal Engineering, who was an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 20 years. “Restoration projects are very important to small and medium-sized firms like ours because they provide a valuable stream of work in a fragile economy. The cost to benefit ratio is very high for restoration projects, especially for beach restoration, which brings considerable value for regional economies in a multitude of business sectors. Not only do these projects serve as an immediate and prolonged benefit economically, but more importantly, the net positive effects provided to a sustainable environmental infrastructure are enduring.”
The BP oil disaster worsened the damage to the badly degraded Mississippi River Delta wetlands, a priceless resource that “sustains the Gulf region’s unique people and cultures and brings the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year in energy, fishing, shipping and tourism,” the report states. “At stake in the loss of coastal wetlands is not only the environmental health of the Gulf region, but also several of the nation’s vital industries.”
The Gulf region’s critical economic role, and the extent to which this role depends on the delta ecosystem, is evident in the following assets provided by the Gulf region:
- 33% of the nation’s seafood harvest (National Marine Fisheries Service, 2011)
- $34 billion per year in tourism (Oxford Economics, 2010)
- 90% of the nation’s total offshore crude oil and natural gas production (Energy Information Administration, 2011)
- 4,000 offshore oil platforms and 33,000 miles of pipeline (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, 2011; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2010)
- 10 of the nation’s 15 largest shipping ports, by cargo volume (American Association of Port Authorities, 2009)
The report notes that a robust coastal restoration sector has been developing in the marine construction industry, but recent budget cuts have stalled many authorized restoration projects.
“In Florida, the economy is the environment, but funding for environmental restoration projects has been reduced by the state and most local governments,” said Michael L. Davis, Vice President and Principal, Keith and Schnars, P.A., an environmental, planning and engineering consulting firm that currently is working on the South Miami-Dade Watershed Study and Plan and has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and Doral, Florida. “The RESTORE Act is a win for Florida’s economy and Florida’s environment because it will enable environmental consulting firms like mine to hire additional biologists and engineers, and restoration construction contractors to buy more equipment and hire more operators.”
The report concludes that coastal restoration is needed in Florida, California, the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes. If U.S. markets expand, the firms that serve them will be well positioned to sell to international markets as they develop in the future. For example, several countries in Asia are developing integrated coastal management programs, and recently India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam have undertaken hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of coastal restoration projects. The RESTORE Act would continue to build this promising new sector.
Contact: Sean Crowley, 202-550-6524-c, firstname.lastname@example.org Comment
By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund
On Nov. 10, the City of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish broke ground on the important and innovative $10 million Central Wetlands Assimilation Project. On hand for the ceremony were New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro, members of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board and approximately 75 others representing community organizations, environmental non-profits and other interested parties. All agree the project is a critical first step towards restoring the entire Central Wetlands Unit, mitigating historical impacts of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) channel, improving fish and wildlife habitat, and creating new jobs in restoration and ecotourism.
The Central Wetlands Assimilation Project is a vital step to restore impacted wetlands in the Central Wetlands Unit, a 30,000-acre area east of downtown New Orleans, containing open water that was once a thriving cypress forest just over the levee from urban communities like the Lower 9th Ward and Chalmette.
However, in the early 1960s, construction of the MRGO shipping channel negatively impacted and dramatically altered hundreds of thousands of acres of coastal ecosystem surrounding the Greater New Orleans area including the Central Wetlands. The MRGO inundated the area with saltwater, killing the cypress trees in the Central Wetlands and leaving behind open water. In 2005, the lack of a coastal wetland buffer contributed to catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina, worsening the damage it caused in the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish.
The Central Wetlands Assimilation Project will provide fresh water and nutrients needed to reduce salinity and encourage plant growth—by redirecting and reusing treated wastewater and effluent from the East Bank Sewage Treatment Plant into the area—rather than discarding all of it into the Mississippi River. Restoring freshwater flows and taking maximum advantage of the resources available serves as a model for all coastal Louisiana restoration efforts.
The Central Wetlands Assimilation Project is also an important first step to showing that environmental restoration equals economic restoration, creating recreation opportunities, improving habitat and creating new jobs. In fact, restoring the entire Central Wetlands Unit has the potential to create 680 direct and indirect restoration related jobs, according to a study by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
- EDF’s press release on the groundbreaking event
- New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial: Restoring the Central Wetlands to repair an important storm shield
- Get involved: MRGO Must Go Coalition
By Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation
Last Friday in the remote town of Davant, Louisiana (on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish), more than 100 people who care about the coast spent the day engaging in a productive dialogue about coastal restoration and protection. The forum, “Getting the Water Right, Getting the Jobs Right,” brought together fishermen, environmental NGOs, community and faith-based organizations, coastal engineering firms, academics, workforce development organizations as well as local, state and federal government representatives to start a vital and urgent series of conversations about Mississippi River Delta restoration and protection.
This foundational event was the idea of Reverend Tyronne Edwards of Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, who understands that “the time is now” to develop a vision for our coast’s future that will be embraced by all who love it. With a spirit of collaboration, he knowingly brought together a group of organizations with diverse interests in coastal restoration to plan and execute a meaningful forum, which included discussion about coastal restoration policy, local job training and opportunities in restoration, and project planning and implementation 101.
Dr. Woody Gagliano was instrumental in the success of the event, and with more than 50 years of experience in the world of coastal restoration planning and implementation, he relayed the following: “Everyone [who attended the forum] is searching for a better way to save and protect our coast. It was a seminal event. It will lead to action. There was a great amount of energy in the room. If we can harness that action and shape it into a vision plan for action, we can make it happen.”
The event was sponsored by: Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parish Coastal Restoration Offices, Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Louisiana Oystermen Association, National Wildlife Federation, Ocean Conservancy, Gulf Restoration Network, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Oxfam America, The Louisiana Justice Institute, Deep South for Environmental Justice at Dillard University, Foundation for Louisiana, Equity and Inclusion Campaign, Coastal Environments, Inc. and Royal Engineering, Inc.No Comments
New Orleans Ranked First in Decade-Long Population Loss Due to Natural Disasters, Not Economic DeclineJanuary 31, 2011 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Community Resiliency, Hurricane Katrina, Job Creation
Guest post by Seyi Fayanju, Environmental Defense Fund
Seyi works on the coastal Louisiana restoration project at Environmental Defense Fund. He is a contributor to EDF’s Restoration and Resilience blog, in which he writes about the links between hazard mitigation, environmental rehabilitation, and economic recovery in the Mississippi River Delta.
Between 2000 and 2009, New Orleans lost more than a quarter of its residents, outpacing Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and other struggling “Rust Belt” cities in its pace of population loss. This decline was largely attributable to the twin disasters of 2005: Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, and the catastrophic levee failures that occurred soon after. While the storm forced the temporary evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, it was the floods afterwards that kept many New Orleanians from returning to their homes. The Big Easy has rebounded in a big way since 2005, but the population of Louisiana’s largest city remains well-below its pre-Katrina figure.
What will be needed to help New Orleans on the path to demographic recovery? The answer could lie in wetland rehabilitation and hazard mitigation. Along with stronger levee protection, New Orleans would benefit from increased investment in complementary forms of flood and storm protection. The restoration of area wetlands and the elevation of homes and commercial structures would provide additional protection for the residents of New Orleans, and create jobs for workers throughout the Mississippi River Delta. Implementation of these recommendations could help New Orleans and other communities in coastal Louisiana to flourish in the years to come.
You can read Seyi's in-depth analysis of New Orleans' population loss on EDF's Restoration and Resilience blog.1 Comment
By Brian Jackson, Environmental Defense Fund
Last week, Oxfam America and the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Social Work co-hosted a two-day workshop (Nov. 15-16) on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, La. about how to put Gulf State residents back to work restoring and improving their coast. The Working Environments Workshop brought together local and national architects, academics, state and parish officials, non-governmental organizations, community advocates, and business interests to discuss how to create sustainable "working environments" across the Gulf.
Economic development opportunities for the Gulf Coast included job creation via renewable energy creation, resilient housing construction, and coastal wetlands restoration.
"There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room, people were very interested in the job creation opportunities that restoration could provide, especially in coastal Louisiana," said Environmental Defense Fund's Community Resiliency Specialist Brian Jackson, who participated in the workshop. "In addition, jobs in coastal restoration or construction of resilient housing and infrastructure have a huge potential for employing local workers and being a source of local innovation exportable to the world.”No Comments