USA: Corps Engages Deep Water Horizon/RESTORE Stakeholders
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Regulatory Branch staff met with Texas agencies in the summer to build a strategic partnership with respect to the Deep Water Horizon/RESTORE actions anticipated to involve multiple agency reviews and approvals.
Texas General Land Office Deputy Commissioner of Coastal Resources, Helen Young, was the state’s representative for developing the Gulf of Mexico Regional Ecosystem Restoration Strategy and remains a key advocate for facilitating Corps efforts to reach out to other agencies.
“After working with Corps of Engineers Galveston District in many capacities, including the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay Study, beneficial use of dredged material projects, permit application reviews, and more, I’m confident that the collaboration involved in this strategic partnership will help ensure success in completing the important restoration projects needed in the Gulf of Mexico region following the impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” said Young.
London-based BP Plc committed to fund up to $1 billion in early restoration projects under an agreement with the National Resource Damage Assessment trustees titled “the Framework for Early Restoration Addressing Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.” This agreement represents an initial step toward fulfilling the company’s obligation to fund the complete restoration of natural resources injured by the spill.
According to Young, Texas is set to receive $203 million of cleanup funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for coastal restoration as part of a plea agreement BP reached with federal authorities to resolve criminal charges stemming from the disaster.
“The district and division regularly participate in monthly calls with headquarters and the other Gulf districts and divisions to keep appraised of any activities on the horizon that may be associated with any of the BP funding streams,” said Kim McLaughlin, acting chief of the USACE Galveston District’s Regulatory Branch. “We will continue to engage federal and state resource agencies to ensure transparency and cooperation early as NRDA and RESTORE Act funds are released and projects are in the planning stages with the National Fish and Wildlife Federation and other stakeholders.”
Former USACE Galveston District Commander Col. Christopher Sallese formed an Interagency Workgroup in June 2013 (including key representatives from state and federal resource agencies), that hosted a kickoff meeting in Austin to discuss roles and responsibilities and identify communication strategies. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for early October to further align agencies’ responsibilities, assess any new developments and introduce incoming USACE Galveston District Commander Col. Richard Pannell to the Interagency Workgroup.
In addition to the partnership with GLO regarding the DEEP Water Horizon/RESTORE initiative, Regulatory Branch staff continues to participate in multiple in-house Project Delivery Teams to ensure timely decisions are made by the district while minimizing redundancy with respect to not only Section 404/10 permitting, but all authorities for which the Corps is responsible. This includes reviews and authorizations required though the district’s Real Estate Branch and Section 408 to avoid impacts to federal projects. This collaborative effort resulted in shorter internal review times and provides applicants with transparency and predictability.
Using a variety of methods to disseminate information for public and agency review, staff began implementing the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center’s (a subordinate laboratory to the Research, Development and Engineering Command) data-sharing site to deliver large documents, saving time and resources.
Press Release, September 11, 2013