New Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Plan addresses need to rebuild resilience of coastal communities

By Mary Babic

NEW ORLEANS, LA –Oxfam America applauded the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council vote on August 28, 2013 to adopt an “Initial Comprehensive Plan” to provide direction in how to use Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 oil spill to help repair vital natural resources, strengthen natural flood protection and create new job and training opportunities. The organization especially praised the Council for considering the particular and acute needs of the people who live in the coastal communities that are still reeling from the effects of the spill.

“The oil spill devastated not just the ecosystems of the fragile and vibrant Gulf Coast, but also ripped through the fabric of its most vulnerable coastal communities. People lost livelihoods, a way of life, community cohesion, a source of food, and more,” said Jeffrey Buchanan, Senior Domestic Policy Advisor at Oxfam America. “And they’re still hurting, still enduring problems like growing poverty and lasting damage to fisheries, all on top of tremendous vulnerability to extreme weather, sea level rise and land loss.

The Plan put forth by Secretary Pritzker and members of the Council begins to address the concerns of low income coastal communities by promoting new job and training opportunities connected to ecosystem restoration projects. Through calling for new partnerships and investments enhancing community resiliency Plan also recognizes and seeks to leverage the important contributions of community-based organizations, many still helping people recover from this disaster. The Comprehensive Plan is an important step towards building a more resilient future for our coastal communities.”

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council was created by the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act, which became law in 2012 and will send up to $20 billion in Clean Water Act fines directly to the Gulf Coast states. The Council was tasked with developing a comprehensive plan to expend funds on critical ecosystem restoration projects and guide the use of other resources. The first RESTORE Act funds, from a plea agreement regarding civil fines from Transocean, could begin to flow as early as this fall.


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