The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force today released its final strategy for long term ecosystem restoration for the Gulf Coast. News Release
EPA Administrator and Task Force Chair Lisa P. Jackson made the announcement today during keynote remarks at the 2011 State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit in Houston.
“This is the culmination of long hours and hard work, of unprecedented collaboration and compromise, and of an urgent need to respond to challenges that have faced this region for years,” Jackson said at a news conference. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Several other federal and regional officials participated in the news conference.
“I am pleased today to announce a major initiative by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDA to improve water quality and wildlife habitat along the Gulf Coast,” said United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Harris Sherman. “We call it the Gulf of Mexico Initiative, or GoMI.”
“President Obama called for a Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration strategy that was designed in partnership with the people of the Gulf to support the vibrant and diverse ecosystems, economies, communities and cultures of the region,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “The release of the final strategy represents the incredible collaboration and dedication of the States, the local communities, the Federal Agencies, the Tribes and the people of the Gulf to bringing the Gulf Coast back stronger than ever before.”
“The strategy that is being released today defines a way forward to restore the Gulf ecosystem and its people to a healthy state, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco. “The development of this strategy was a strong partnership across the states and between the states and federal agencies.”
“I think it is the first time that the five Gulf states have ever agreed on anything,” said Task Force Co-Chair Garret Graves, echoing Lubchenco’s statement.
“All too often, in my experience, whenever you hear the phrase, ‘I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help', you at least start out with suspicion; sometimes that transitions into derision; and none of that is true here,” said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
With the release of the final strategy today, the Task Force marked the beginning of the implementation phase by announcing new initiatives, including $50 million in assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to help agricultural producers in seven Gulf Coast river basins improve water quality, increase water conservation and enhance wildlife habitat.
The State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit, sponsored by the Harte Institute, will continue through Thursday at the Omni Galleria Hotel.