Last week I attended the Gulf of Mexico Alliance 8th Annual All Hands Meeting held in Tampa, Florida. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, with a goal of significantly increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. The Alliance encourages collaboration among government agencies, businesses, education providers and non-governmental organizations. Priority issues addressed by the Alliance include water quality, habitat conservation, ecosystem assessment, nutrient impacts, community resilience and environmental education.
Martin Ecosystems was recognized with an EPA/Gulf Guardian Award for the Elayn Hunt Correctional Waste Water Project. Our Isle de Jean Charles project partner, Shell Oil was also recognized for that project as well.
The overwhelming theme heard in session after session is that the Gulf Coast states have been given an opportunity of a lifetime.
With the passing of The RESTORE Act, Congress has dedicated 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the BP oil spill to the five Gulf States to restore coastal environments and economies. Billions of dollars will now be sent to the 5 states.
For most of my lifetime, coastal land loss in Louisiana has been at crisis levels. Plans have been written and projects proposed, but neither had the funding nor the money for implementation. The RESTORE Act fines will provide the opportunity of a lifetime Louisiana has been waiting for. I hope that my state and the additional 4 Gulf Coast states work together, stick to the plan, and use this money wisely. The rest of the country will be eagerly watching us in order to see how we spend it.
Opportunities like this one are too good to waste. I just hope we make the most of it.