Dredging Firms: BP Spill/RESTORE Act Funds to Pay for Ecosystems

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, which includes the governors the five Gulf states and members of the Obama Administration, has the power to direct unprecedented resources from the RESTORE Act, a bill passed Congress in June 2012 to direct civil fines from BP and the responsible parties in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, into restoring one of the most important ecosystems in the country.

As the trial begins to determine the amount of civil fines BP ill face and the Gulf Coast Council meets in numerous Gulf Coast locations, leaders from some of the country’s top dredging firms and other coastal business to associations came together in support of building strong connections between environmental restoration and economic renewal.

Most recently, more than 120 businesses with combined revenue in excess of $20 billion annually have signed on to a testimonial letter supporting the use of RESTORE Act funds for large-scale environmental restoration that will create jobs, strengthen Gulf community resilience, and contribute to long-term economic renewal.

The letter included leading dredging firms and industry associations like Weeks Marine, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, Orion Marine Group, Mike Hooks LLC, Matthews Brothers, Inc., Dredging Contractors of America and the American Shore and Beach Protection Association. The companies urged the states to also invest RESTORE Act funds in worker training initiatives which would bring together industry, communities and government to connect local, low income and disadvantaged workers to the new jobs created in constructing, designing and administering ecosystem restoration projects.

The eventual allocation of funding related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response has the potential to enable the people of the Gulf of Mexico to simultaneously restore the health and resilience of their environments, their economies and their communities. As local, state and federal governments plan for restoration of the Gulf Coast, new opportunities will arise for economic growth.

Right now, there is a remarkable opportunity to restore the Gulf, to strengthen its traditional industries, spur innovation, accelerate emerging markets centered on environmental restoration, and promote new prosperity. These new markets translate into on-the-ground jobs for workers in the region, providing new opportunities towards economic mobility and above average wages. For example, a recent economic study by Mather Economics, estimates that fines to be paid for the 2010 oil spill could create up to 57,697 new jobs in restoration projects in the next ten years alone.

Oxfam America and The Nature Conservancy delivered the letters to the five Gulf state governors and members of the Gulf Coast Council on Tuesday, February 19.

Ashley Kerns, Vice President, Mike Hooks, Inc.

“Through the years our company has seen how investing in the environment can mean jobs for workers and economic growth for local communities. The industry is excited to work with the Gulf States and the Gulf Coast Council to execute projects and help create new career opportunities for Gulf Coast workers — jobs that in many cases, for those willing to work hard and stay with it, can provide working families with good wages and a shot at economic mobility.”

Mike Hooks, Inc. of Westlake, LA was founded in 1957 and today the family owned business has become one of the Gulf Coast’s largest, heavy duty dredgers working across the five state region.

Thomas B. Matthews, Secretary-Treasurer, Matthews Brothers Inc.

“These restoration projects create a demand for work from a wide variety of companies in the engineering, construction, transportation, and manufacturing sectors. As one of the first firms to win a contract on a post-BP spill environmental restoration project in Mississippi, I have witnessed firsthand that investments in coastal restoration can mean jobs for coastal workers and economic growth for local businesses and communities.”

Matthews Brothers Inc. is marine specialty construction firm located in Pass Christian, MS with experience in reef building, dredging, marsh creation and other restoration projects.

Press Release, February 27, 2013

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