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Jefferson County
Jefferson County
News Release
Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Salt Bayou Watershed nominated for $10 million RESTORE Act grant
Deepwater Horizon funds would add to Jefferson County momentum

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioner Toby Baker has forwarded a Multi-year Implementation Plan (MIP) for Deepwater Horizon coastal restoration funding to the U.S. Treasury Department. The action is pursuant to the RESTORE Act passed by Congress in 2012 to allocate some of the civil fines paid by British Petroleum to the five Gulf of Mexico states as part of a consent decree agreed to by BP and the five Gulf States including Texas.

The Texas MIP names 23 projects in coastal counties totaling $114.2 million and included a $10 million grant for Jefferson County’s proposed Salt Bayou Watershed project. If approved by Treasury’s review and subsequent state and county actions, the Salt Bayou Project funds would help fortify the county’s beach and dune system along 20-miles of Gulf of Mexico coast.

A fully restored beach and dune system would prevent damaging salt water intrusion into the state’s largest contiguous coastal marsh that is vital for migratory waterfowl and other birds, as well as many Gulf of Mexico marsh-dependent aquatic species that were injured by the nation’s worst oil spill.

A healthy coastal marsh is also highly effective in reducing hurricane and tropical storm surge of salt water that can degrade the biological functions of the Salt Bayou Watershed. Coastal marsh degradation would make billions of dollars of Jefferson County homes, businesses, energy, transportation and national security assets vulnerable to destructive hurricanes.

The proposed RESTORE Act grant would fund part of the Salt Bayou Watershed Restoration Plan designed to conserve the 139,000 acres of coastal marsh that offers significant environmental, economic and national security benefits.

“This proposed RESTORE Act funding comes on the heels of a $15.8 million Natural Resource Damages Act grant last month for the same project,” said Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick. “It is wonderful to have Governor Greg Abbott’s and TCEQ Commissioner Baker’s support to complete this worthy goal.”

The beach and dune restoration phase of the Salt Bayou Watershed Project is the fourth and final part of the effort and is Jefferson County’s foremost goal from BP oil spill restoration. Although Texas currently has only $85.6 million in the RESTORE Bucket 1 account, it will receive additional funds next year that would allow for full funding of all 23 nominated projects if they are approved by the U.S.

Treasury. The broad authority Congress provided the Gulf States under so called “Bucket 1” of the RESTORE Act makes it likely that all projects will meet Treasury’s guidelines and be funded.

“As a Beaumont native, I realize the importance of the Salt Bayou watershed’s role in safeguarding people and industry as well as a world class wildlife habitat area,” said TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker. “I am glad we were able to recommend RESTORE Act funds to this vital project.”

The public comment process for the RESTORE Act MIP last June was extensive and the Salt Bayou Project grant proposal received widespread stakeholder support from groups such as Ducks Unlimited, Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission, Golden Triangle Business Roundtable, Beaumont and Port Arthur Chambers of Commerce, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Texas, Harte Research Institute, the Coastal Conservation Association and many others.




USO-Houston
Remembering Jim Guidry


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