Report details plan to address Gulf problems

An initial plan to address ecosystem and economic issues along the Gulf Coast is set to be released by July 6, according to a document posted Tuesday by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

The council was set up through the RESTORE Act to help develop the plan, which also will direct where a portion of the civil and administrative penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP oil leak will be spent.

On Tuesday, the council released “The Path Forward to Restoring the Gulf Coast: A Proposed Comprehensive Plan” in part to fulfill a requirement in the RESTORE Act that a proposed plan be published 180 days after the act became law.

The seven-page proposal includes guidance of what will be included in the upcoming and more-detailed plan, including a list of any project authorized prior to the RESTORE Act but not yet started and a three-year project and program priority list.

“The council will develop the initial Comprehensive Plan in collaboration with the people who live and work in the Gulf Coast region,” the report released Tuesday says.

Public meeting times and places will be posted online at http://www.restorethegulf.gov. A draft comprehensive plan is scheduled to be released for a 30-day public comment period in the spring followed by the release of the initial comprehensive plan in July.

The RESTORE Act dedicates 80 percent of administrative and civil penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP oil leak to a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. The council will manage 30 percent of that money through the comprehensive plan and will give approval for the split of an additional 30 percent to states along the Gulf Coast.

The other 40 percent will be spent as follows: 35 percent split equally among the Gulf Coast states, 2.5 percent for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and 2.5 percent split among the states for the Center of Excellence Research.