Gulf Restoration Network: RESTORE Council Announces Next Steps on Spending BP Funds

 

For Immediate Release: July 25, 2014
Contact: Steve Murchie, steve@healthygulf.org, 941-441-7035

RESTORE Council Announces Next Steps on Spending BP Funds
Gulf groups call for checks and balances to prevent “backroom deals”

New Orleans, LA – The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, created by the RESTORE Act in response to the BP drilling disaster, disclosed new procedures for spending potentially billions of dollars on Gulf restoration.

“Since 2010, the Gulf Future Coalition has consistently advocated for transparency and meaningful public engagement. We appreciate members of the Council staff who have consistently met with Gulf Future partner organizations to discuss our ideas and approach. As such, while the Council mentions ’community conversations,’ we hope to see more details around an accessible and comprehensive structure that will allow all Gulf Coast residents to participate,” notes Jayeesha Dutta, coordinator for the Gulf Future Coalition. “We encourage the Council to specifically adopt best practices that engage traditionally marginalized constituencies who have been most impacted. We expect an unprecedented approach to public engagement due to the scale, scope and nature of this disaster.”

Gulf Restoration Network issued the following statement in response (any portion of which can be attributed to Steve Murchie, GRN’s Campaign Director):

The RESTORE Act provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair damage to the Gulf of Mexico, which is the foundation of our economy and quality of life. This chance will not come again. Because there are so many urgent restoration priorities, the RESTORE Council must establish a process that will ensure that these funds are actually used to restore the Gulf.

Today’s announcement keeps the door open for meaningful public participation, real scientific review, and transparency, but fails to lock in those checks and balances. We will need to see more specifics from the RESTORE Council to know whether they mean it or not. Making this announcement by posting it to their website on a Friday afternoon is another indication that they have a long way to go before their actions match their words.

We also recognize the challenges of standing up a new government body consisting of five governors and six federal agencies, and appreciate the efforts of the RESTORE Council staff to engage interested parties.

– End GRN’s Statement – 

While BP’s fines under the Clean Water Act have not yet been resolved, the RESTORE Council will have approximately $240 million for ecosystem restoration from the Transocean settlement by February of 2015.

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The Gulf Future Coalition, comprised of 58 partner organizations, was created shortly after the BP oil disaster of 2010 with a mission of providing the long-term support needed to protect the environment and the distinct culture of the Gulf Coast for future generations.

Gulf Restoration Network is a 20-year-old non-profit dedicated to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Special thanks to Cathy Harrelson

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