RESTORE Council and Plan
On August 13, 2015, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released
its draft Initial Funded Priorities List (Draft FPL). The Draft FPL is the
Council’s plan for distributing funds for projects related to the
restoration of the Gulf. It proposes approximately $140 million worth of
projects and programs, which will be funded with the monies from the
Transocean settlement, in the federal “Council” pot.
The Draft FPL
For Monroe County, its noteworthy that the Council’s Draft FPL does not
recognize for funding or projects any watershed areas in Florida south of
the Tampa Bay area. Monroe County took the opportunity to submit
comments during the open comment period to point out to the Council the
ecological value of Monroe County’s Gulf region, in the hopes that we are
recognized in future iterations of the FPL.
Monroe County’s letter to the Restoration Council
To assist with understanding the Draft FPL, the Environmental Law Institute
provided the following information:
RESTORE Council Draft
Initial Funded Priorities List
August 13, 2015, another important milestone in Gulf restoration was reached:
the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released its
draft Initial Funded Priorities List (“Draft FPL”). The Draft FPL proposes
approximately $139.6 million worth of projects and programs, which will be
funded with monies from the Transocean settlement, about $240 million of which
were allocated to the Council (note that the much larger
BP is not yet final, so the Council has yet to receive any of that funding).
Note that the Draft FPL is not yet final: it is open for public comment until
September 28, 2015. The Council anticipates that it will finalize the FPL by the
end of the year.
What is the FPL?
RESTORE Act diverts 80% of Clean Water Act civil and administrative
penalties from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf. This money is
split among five different buckets. One of these buckets is the region-wide
Gulf Coast Ecosystem
Restoration Council, a federal entity composed of federal agency officials
and the governors of the five Gulf states. The Council will receive 30% of
RESTORE Act funds (plus 50% of the interest). One of the Council’s main
responsibilities is to carry out a comprehensive plan to restore and protect the
Gulf’s natural resources. As part of that responsibility, the Council is
required to develop “a prioritized list of specific projects and programs to be
funded.” This is called the Funded Priorities List (or FPL). The FPL must be
updated every year. The Draft FPL is the first FPL to be proposed.
What is in the Draft FPL?
start with some overarching points:
the Category 1 projects and programs look like? Here is a breakdown by state and
the Draft FPL, Louisiana will receive the most funding (37.4%), followed by
Mississippi (17%), Florida (11.7%), Texas (9.6%), and Alabama (9.1%). Gulf-wide
initiatives will receive about 15.2% of the funds. Also important to note is
that, in some states (AL, LA, and MS), the focus is on one watershed, while in
others (FL and TX) the focus is on multiple watersheds.
How is the rest of the Council money being spent?
above, the Draft FPL proposes to spend around $139.6 million on projects and
programs, which will be funded with monies from the Transocean settlement. But
the Council was allocated a total of approximately $240 million from that
settlement. Where does the rest of the money go? Here is the breakdown:
How can the public participate?
important to remember that the projects and programs in the Draft FPL are not
yet final. Public comments are being accepted until September 28, 2015. For this
Draft FPL and other milestones to come, continued public engagement will be key
to ensuring that Gulf restoration and recovery proceeds in a way that meets the
needs and priorities of Gulf communities. Consistent and persistent public
engagement will shape Gulf recovery for the better.