The Obama administration unveiled a long-term restoration plan on Sept. 28 that calls for a dedicated fund to be set up to pay for long-term recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.
The restoration plan was written by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus at the request of President Obama. Chief among its recommendations is a call for Congress to dedicate a significant amount of any civil penalties obtained from responsible parties for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill into a Gulf Coast Recovery Fund to go toward the long-term cleanup and restoration of the Gulf.
The plan also recommends that Congress authorize a Gulf Coast Recovery Council to manage the funds and coordinate recovery projects. The council would include representatives from the states and federally recognized gulf tribes. The council would work to ensure that local governments and citizens also are involved in the effort.
In the meantime, President Obama has said that he will soon sign an executive order to establish the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration task force, which will serve as a bridge to the recovery council. Chaired by Environmental Protection Agency Administration Lisa Jackson, the task force will coordinate restoration programs and projects in the gulf region.
“President Obama has said many times that our commitment to the families and environment in the gulf extends far beyond capping the well. We’re sending that message loud and clear today: our work is not complete until the people and the environment they rely on are on the path to restoration and recovery,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
In June, as the urgent oil spill response efforts were still underway, President Obama tapped Secretary Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi ,to develop the framework for long-term recovery. Mabus says he gathered input from thousands of local residents, businesses, and elected officials to create the foundation for his report.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says she supports the recommendations in the Mabus report and that many of the recommendations echo key tenets of her Restoring Ecosystem Sustainability and Protection of the Delta (RESPOND) act.
The RESPOND Act calls for 80% of the civil and criminal penalties charged to BP under the Clean Water Act to go toward economic, environmental and human recovery in the Gulf of Mexico.