On May 23, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released their initial draft plan for restoring the gulf following extensive damage caused by the 2010 Macondo blowout and BP oil spill.
The Council oversees money spent from the RESTORE Act, which dedicates 80 percent of all administrative and civil penalties related to the BP oil spill to a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. It also outlines how the funds can be used to restore and protect ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, coastal wetlands, and economy here.
The public was invited to comment on this plan, and that period ends Monday. Readers interested in reviewing and responding to the Council’s scheme should click here and comment.
In an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday, the exec. director of Alabama’s Weeks Bay Foundation, Ben Raines, implored politicians and gulf residents to use a percentage of the money toward restoring marshland.
In this opinion piece, Raines explained how all but Louisiana‘s marshland fared fairly well after the spill, and yet without the marshes restoration is impossible. Louisiana, he points out, has been on the losing end for decades:
It is estimated that more than 50 percent [of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands] have already been lost. Louisiana has been the most severely affected — the state’s coast has lost 1,900 square miles in the last 80 years — and even more will be lost, which makes the marshes in the surrounding states all the more important.
By commenting on the aforementioned Draft Plan, New Orleanians and other gulf residents can get their voices heard.
While a recent trip by the Examiner out around Barataria Bay looked beautiful on the surface, the National Wildlife Federation’s David Muth explained that this was, essentially, an illusion. The damage is beneath the surface, and throughout the gulf off Southern Louisiana sick killifish and deformed shrimp have been found. Scientists are linking Corexit in the Gulf to magnifying the problems previously observed here.
Corexit, the quick fix, pushed the petroleum down far into the water column, but just because problems are 5,000 feet into the water column does not mean they are gone.
By adding your voice to the Draft Plan, you’ll be supporting a framework to implement a region-wide restoration effort in a way that “restores, protects, and revitalizes the Gulf Coast region following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” RTG says.
While in theory, local politicians should care about how the BP money is spent, the reality is, as Raines points out in the Times piece, “a governor will propose building an $85 million hotel and conference center in a state park with money already provided by BP.”
Public engagement sessions have already ended, but it’s not too late to spend some time reviewing the plan and getting your message out, Louisiana.
Emphases the Examiner’s.