From: DOC Public Affairs
: Fri Dec 07 15:10:26 2012
: TUESDAY: Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to Hold First Public Meeting in Mobile, Alabama
Friday, December 7, 2012

News Media Contact:
Department of Commerce Office of Public Affairs, (202) 482-4883
TUESDAY: Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to Hold First Public Meeting in Mobile, Alabama
Acting Commerce Secretary, EPA Administrator, Alabama Governor and other Federal, State, Local Officials to Participate

WASHINGTON — On December 11, 2012, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) will hold its first public meeting in Mobile, Alabama. The Council, which was established by the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourism, Opportunities Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), will develop and oversee implementation of a comprehensive plan to help restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Council is comprised of governors from the five affected Gulf States, the Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security as well as the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Gulf States selected and President Obama appointed the Secretary of Commerce as the Council’s Chair.

The Council will work with the State and local communities to identify projects and programs that will restore the region’s natural resources and help benefit local businesses, boost their economies, and create jobs. In order to ensure robust public input throughout the entire process, the Council will hold several public meetings and listening sessions in each of the Gulf States in the coming months.

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and other federal, state and local officials will participate in the meeting on December 11. This meeting will give the public the opportunity to learn about the Council and provide feedback on the Council’s restoration planning efforts during a designated public comment period.

To learn more about the Gulf Restoration Council and RESTORE Act, visit www.restorethegulf.gov.

WHO: Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary
      Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

      Governor Robert Bentley, State of Alabama

          Harris Sherman, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
      Mary E. Landry, Director, Incident Management and Preparedness Policy, U.S. Coast Guard
          Rachel Jacobson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Department of the Interior

          J. Andrew Hagelin, Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for the Army (Civil Works)

      Mimi A. Drew, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

      Garret Graves, Chair, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

      Trudy D. Fisher, Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality

      Toby Baker, Commissioner, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

WHEN: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
      1:00 – 2:30 pm Remarks by participating Council member representatives
2:30 – 4:30 pm Open microphone public comment period

WHERE: Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel
The oil spill caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast’s natural resources, devastating the economies and communities that rely on it. In an effort to help the region rebuild, Congress passed the bipartisan RESTORE Act, which dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties paid by responsible parties after the date of enactment of this Act in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Region for ecological and economic recovery efforts. This law will likely generate investments in economic development, tourism promotion, and science-based natural resource restoration in the states hit hardest by the spill -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
The RESTORE Act sets forth the following framework for allocation of the Trust Fund:
      35 percent of the money divided equally between the five Gulf States for ecological and economic restoration efforts in the region;
      30 percent of the money through the Council to implement a comprehensive plan for ecosystem and economic recovery of the Gulf Coast;
      30 percent of the money for States’ plans based on impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill;
      2.5 percent of the money to create the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program within the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and
      2.5 percent of the money to the Centers of Excellence Research grants, which will each focus on science, technology, and monitoring related to Gulf restoration.