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2013-10-03

Environmental fund receives $203 million to restore Gulf Coast

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Texas will receive $203 million over a five-year period to restore Gulf coast natural resources impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced last week. NFWF will administer the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund involving $2.544 billion from plea agreements resolving certain criminal cases arising from the 2010 explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
With today's announcement, NFWF also outlined procedures and criteria for selecting projects for funding in the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
As mandated in the plea agreements, NFWF has begun consulting with natural resource management agencies in each of the five Gulf States and with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In Texas, those agencies are Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas General Land Office. The input of these agencies will be the primary means through which project selection under the Gulf Fund will be coordinated with actions of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees and the RESTORE Council.
"We will work to develop consensus among the state and federal resource agencies to identify projects that meet the conditions of the plea agreement to benefit the natural resources of the Gulf Coast," said Jeff Trandahl, NFWF executive director and CEO.
Under the terms of the plea agreements between the Department of Justice and BP and Transocean, the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund will receive a total of $1.272 billion for barrier island and river diversion projects in the state of Louisiana; $356 million for natural resource projects in each of the states of Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi; and $203 million for similar projects in the state of Texas.
The primary criterion for project selection is to "remedy harm and eliminate or reduce the risk of future harm to Gulf Coast natural resources" that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as required in the plea agreements.
Further criteria will emphasize projects that advance priorities in natural resource management plans such as those called for under the RESTORE Act, are within reasonable proximity to where impacts occurred as appropriate, are cost-effective, maximize environmental benefits, are science-based and that produce measurable and meaningful conservation outcomes to habitats and species of a type impacted by the oil spill.
Organizations or agencies interested in submitting project proposals for consideration should direct that information to the lead state agency in the appropriate Gulf state as identified on the NFWF website (http://www.nfwf.org/gulf). The Texas trustees are in the process of creating a website for NFWF Gulf fund work in Texas (http://www.restorethetexascoast.org). That site is not yet up and running, but it will be in coming weeks.