The White House released its “America’s Gulf Coast: A Long Term Recovery Plan after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” report yesterday. In the first of a series of teleconference briefings hosted by Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf advocates and community members responded to the report release today.
“The ongoing consequences of the BP Oil Drilling Disaster have jeopardized the natural systems that drive the Gulf’s ecology and economy,” said Aaron Viles, campaign director for the Gulf Restoration Network. “We are thrilled to see the White House’s Gulf Coast Recovery plan support directing a significant amount of the BP fines and penalties to Gulf restoration, and are pleased to see Administrator Jackson designated to lead the White House’s efforts in the region. To fulfill the promise to the Gulf that this plan represents will require the leadership and support of Congress, and we are hopeful they answer this charge with the urgency demanded by the BP disaster. If they fail to act, this is just one more plan for a planned-out region.”
The plan is the first step down a long road to restoration. It is organized into five topic areas: Proposal to Congress to Dedicate Clean Water Act Civil Penalties to the Gulf Coast, Long-Term Ecosystem Restoration, Health and Human Services Recovery, Economic Recovery, and Nonprofit Recovery. Speakers from Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Ocean Conservancy, and Oxfam America address their particular realms of expertise in the call.
“The report provides a good overall roadmap for a successful restoration effort [of the marine environment]. . . but it is a plan, and implementation of the plan is going to be critical. The devil is going to be in the details, and it is critical that Congress act quickly and decisively to provide a funding source for restoration,” said Chris Dorsett, Fish Conservation and Gulf Restoration Program Director, The Ocean Conservancy.
While all the groups largely praised the steps set out in the recovery plan, concerns for the future focused on ensuring implementation, much of which will rely on action from Congress. Also, all speakers agreed that long-term monitoring to assess impacts of the BP disaster over the long term is essential.
“This is a call to action,” expressed Marylee Orr, Executive Director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.