Deepwater Horizon Oil trustees invite public comment on restoration projects

Deepwater Horizon Oil trustees invite public comment on restoration projects
MGN ONLINE
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Monday, December 9, 2013 - 12:21pm

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees have released a draft plan that proposes $627 million in early restoration projects across the Gulf states. The proposal includes the first Texas early restoration projects, five projects totaling about $18.4 million. The Draft Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Draft Early Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is available for public review and comment through Feb. 4.

This marks the third and largest phase of early restoration to date. Included in the draft are 44 proposed projects. Some aim to restore barrier islands, dunes, marshes, shorelines, and oyster beds. Others, such as boat ramps and park enhancements, seek to address the lost recreational use of natural resources.

The draft also proposes a programmatic plan for continuing to pursue early restoration. The draft, available at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov, includes the programmatic plan and the complete list of proposed projects with locations and descriptions.

Of the $627 million, ecological projects comprise about $397 million, which is approximately 64 percent of the total. Lost recreational use projects make up the remaining $230 million. Both approaches meet criteria under the Oil Pollution Act and other applicable laws and guidelines.

The Texas project proposals include about $10.8 million for beach facilities at Galveston Island State Park, $210,100 for facilities at Sea Rim State Park, and about $7.4 million for three artificial reefs. All five projects are intended to compensate for lost recreational use of natural resources.

“We’re pleased to invite public review of the first Texas early restoration project proposals, which would contribute to restoring the entire Gulf of Mexico,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, speaking for the three Texas trustee agencies, which also include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and General Land Office. “These proposals represent investments that are good for our Gulf and good for Texas coastal communities and economies.”

The draft’s release opens a 60-day public comment period that runs through Feb. 4. The comment period will include 10 public meetings held across the Gulf states. All meetings will begin with an interactive open house during which Trustee staff will be available to discuss project details. The open house will be followed by a formal presentation and opportunity to provide comments to Trustee representatives. Times, dates and locations for the three Texas meetings are listed below.

Please visit www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov to download an electronic copy of the draft and to view a list of public libraries and community locations across the Gulf in which copies of the draft have been placed for public review.

In addition to verbal comments at public meetings, the public may submit written comments:

Online: www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov
By U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 48567, Atlanta, GA 30345

Early restoration projects represent an initial step toward fulfilling the responsible parties’ obligation to pay for restoration of injured natural resources. Ultimately, the responsible parties are obligated to compensate the public for the full scope of natural resource injuries caused by the spill, including the cost of assessment and restoration planning.

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