Coastal Restoration Planning for Texas
The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, originating from an explosion at the Macondo well in 2010, caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The aftermath led to a unique funding opportunity for Gulf restoration projects, with over $20 billion in civil penalties. The RESTORE Act allocates $5.33 billion to the federal RESTORE Trust Fund. Restoration efforts are coordinated through the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, consisting of Governors and key federal authorities. On September 14, 2022, the Council approved the 2022 Comprehensive Plan Update for Restoring the Gulf Coast Ecosystem and Economy.
The Council-Selected Restoration Component (commonly referred to as Bucket 2) of the Restoration Trust Fund is for projects that improve the coastal and marine ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. The Council evaluates and approves Bucket 2 projects through a Funded Priorities List, requiring documentation of compliance with environmental laws.
In Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) administers these programs. The allocation and utilization of funding for Gulf restoration projects, present numerous challenges. The process involves public outreach to enhance understanding of funding sources, consultations with federal authorities, and engagement with various stakeholders, including state, local, and non-profit organizations invested in conservation and restoration within Texas coastal counties. Through this contract, specific to Bucket 2 funding, HRI provides technical expertise to TCEQ in development of technical information, developing and assisting in stakeholder and public engagement, and developing documentation for submission to the Council.
HRI researchers will accomplish the following:
- HRI is working with TCEQ to develop restoration plans for the Texas Gulf coast that are then presented for funding as programs or projects under Bucket 2.
- HRI, on behalf of Texas, is also working with the states and federal agencies on the restoration council to guide and implement restoration planning efforts and to ensure the Best Available Science is used.
- HRI’s scientific knowledge and technical capabilities as well as experience in bringing scientists and the public together to make critical decisions is fully engaged in this restoration planning effort.