Governor Rick Scott yesterday announced 5 proposals for 20 projects totaling $77 million were submitted to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) for consideration under the Council-Selected Restoration Component portion of funding through the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act).
Governor Scott said: “We’re committed to protecting and restoring Florida’s estuaries, and these $77 million in projects would significantly bolster our efforts to protect and restore our natural treasures. Our Department of Environmental Protection has worked closely with local leaders and environmental stakeholders to identify the projects that will best benefit our critical ecosystems. Through state funding we’ve made major investments in the Everglades and the Keys, and with these dollars we’ll make similar investments in North Florida’s estuaries and continue to make Florida’s environment a priority.”
These proposals address high priority restoration needs in 10 major watersheds from Perdido Bay to Tampa Bay. They also represent the feedback received from numerous meetings with stakeholders and citizens.
“Water quality is a top priority in Florida, and the projects in the submitted proposals significantly reflect that priority. We hope to see the projects approved and implemented in the near future,” said Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. of the Department of Environmental Protection.
The RESTORE Act
The RESTORE Act allocates 80 percent of the Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties resulting from the Deepwater Horizon incident to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. To date, Transocean is the only responsible party to settle its civil liability and a portion of those funds are now available.
The Council-Selected Restoration Component, commonly known as Bucket 2, equates to 30 percent of available funds and is managed by the council. For this first round, the total available for projects is roughly $150 to $180 million to be shared among 11 council members.
Once the council staff receives all member proposals they will be reviewed for eligibility and posted online. The council members will then work to create a draft Funded Priorities List, which will be available in the Spring/Summer of 2015 for public review and comment.