The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board yesterday approved the following five projects for submission to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council for consideration under the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the RESTORE Act.
– Golden Triangle Marsh Creation Project – a project to restore and protect wetland, fish, and wildlife habitat to help maintain landscape integrity and enhance community resilience;
– Mississippi River Reintroduction into Maurepas Swamp Project – a project to restore and enhance the health and sustainability of the Maurepas Swamp through the reintroduction of seasonal Mississippi River inflow;
– Biloxi Marsh Living Shoreline Project – a project needed to protect, enhance, and restore the Biloxi Marshes, which function as an important storm buffer for the City of New Orleans;
– West Grand Terre Beach Nourishment and Stabilization Project – a project to restore and enhance dune and back barrier marsh habitat to provide storm surge and wave attenuation, thereby addressing the issues of gulf shoreline erosion, diminished storm surge protection, and subsidence of back barrier marshes;
– Lower Mississippi River Management Program – a project to refine current river management practices to achieve habitat restoration and conservation, while maintaining the integrity of flood protection and navigation management projects and goals.
In June 2012, Congress proactively passed the RESTORE Act, which dedicates 80 percent of all prospective Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties related to the Deepwater Horizonspill to a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.
The RESTORE Act also outlines a structure by which the funds can be utilized to restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands, and economy of the Gulf Coast region.
The RESTORE Act outlines the following framework for allocation of the Trust Fund:
– 35 percent equally divided among the five States for ecological restoration, economic development, and tourism promotion;
– 30 percent plus interest managed by the Council for ecosystem restoration under the Comprehensive Plan;
– 30 percent divided among the States according to a formula to implement State expenditure plans, which require approval of the Council;
– 2.5 percent plus interest for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program within the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and
– 2.5 percent plus interest allocated to the States for Centers of Excellence Research grants, which will each focus on science, technology, and monitoring related to Gulf restoration.
In January 2013, Transocean agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve federal Clean Water Act civil penalties. The total amount of BP’s Clean Water Act civil penalties will be determined by the upcoming civil trial.