Invitation: Public Webinar- Funded Priorities List 3- A Look Ahead

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) is beginning the process to develop the next Funded Priorities List (FPL), targeted to be finalized in mid-2020. The FPL is a vehicle through which funds from the Council-Selected Restoration Component, commonly referred to as “Bucket 2”, are approved for specific ecosystem restoration activities in the Gulf Coast region. The RESTORE Council is hosting two public webinars to provide Gulf stakeholders with an overview of the path forward to the next Funded Priorities List. During each live webinar, questions related to process, schedule, and next steps will be answered. Both webinars will be recorded and posted on www.restorethegulf.gov.

You may register for these webinars in advance. Once registered, a link to access the webinar will be sent to the email address provided during registration.

For More information contact:
Keala J. Hughes, Director of External Affairs & Tribal Relations
Direct: 504-717-7235
Email: restorecouncil@restorethegulf.gov


Update on MIP Application Process

TCEQ RESTORE staff have been preparing federal applications for submission to Treasury to receive grant awards for Bucket 1 funds. TCEQ will submit seven federal applications consisting of 23 of the 26 projects in the accepted MIP based on the following primary eligible activities: Restoration & Protection; Mitigation; Promotion of Consumption of Seafood; Planning Assistance; Tourism; Flood Protection; and Workforce Development. Each project will be included in one of the seven applications associated with the eligible activity that it was listed under in the MIP. Staff is currently working on the Restoration & Protection application, to be followed by Flood Protection. As a reminder, approximately $97 million is currently available to Texas through Bucket 1. Projects moving forward to the application phase were selected by then Commissioner Baker using his discretionary authority and in consultation with the Office of the Governor. Factors that were considered included whether the projects (1) strengthen coastal resiliency, (2) stimulate local coastal economies, (3) increase tourism, and (4) establish a foundation for future economic and ecosystem restoration through careful planning and study. Consideration was also given to projects that had a strong economic component in addition to ecological restoration. Finally, these projects were also selected to provide funding for as many RESTORE eligible counties as possible, as well as to ensure a cross-section of projects that addressed as many of the RESTORE eligible activities as possible.

Any questions concerning the Bucket 1/MIP process should be directed to the TCEQ’s Procurement and Contracts section in the Office of Administrative Services at arthur.french@tceq.texas.gov.


BUCKET 3/STATE EXPENDITURE PLAN: NEXT STEPS

The information provided below outlines the next steps in the process to secure Bucket 3 grant funds now that the August 30th comment period for the draft Texas State Expenditure Plan (SEP) has closed.

This initial SEP is focusing on Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts and is a programmatic plan that addresses the distribution of approximately $31 million in Bucket 3 funds. Other plans will be developed in later years as the additional Bucket 3 funds become available. Texas is expected to receive a total of $121 million by the end of 2031.

Following the closing of the public comment period:

  • Comments will be reviewed by TCEQ staff, and as needed, changes to the initial Texas SEP will be made.
  • In consultation with Governor Abbott, TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker will approve the programmatic SEP for submission.
  • The programmatic SEP will be submitted to the RESTORE Council for approval by the Chair.
  • Upon approval of the programmatic SEP, TCEQ will submit federal applications to the RESTORE Council for each of the programmatic areas.
  • Once the Council has approved the individual federal applications, grants for each of the programmatic areas will be awarded.
  • TCEQ will develop work plans for selected projects that will be funded under each of the awarded programmatic grants.
  • The selection of projects will be made through collaboration between the Office of the Governor, Toby Baker as the state’s representative on the RESTORE Council, and the Commission to Rebuild Texas (CRT), a Governor-established Commission to managed Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. The extensive project lists that have been compiled through CRT’s process will be used in determining which projects are most needed. Projects selected to move forward under this approved SEP must comply with the requirements included in the programmatic SEP, such as, but not limited to the following:
    • eligible activity;
    • authorized geographic location; and
    • qualified recipient type.


TCEQ Awarded Bucket 2 Planning Grant

In late April, the federal RESTORE Council awarded TCEQ a 5-year Bucket 2 Planning Grant totaling $2.1 million. The grant start date was June 1, 2018. These grant funds will be used in support of work to coordinate with Texas coastal experts, elected officials, representatives for NRDA and NFWF, the four RESTORE Gulf states, federal entities and the public, using the best available science, in meeting the requirements of the RESTORE Council-Selected Restoration Component (Bucket 2) and the commitments of the Comprehensive Plan 2016 update.

The grant activities will focus on addressing and determining planning needs and identifying project proposals for the next Bucket 2 Funded Priority List (FPL) and to set up the foundation for successful long-term restoration projects. TCEQ expects to hire a contractor to conduct planning and collaboration activities over the grant cycle to compile information that the state will use to determine the highest level of restoration needs along the Texas coast, as well as the Gulf coast, and to provide the basis for a 10-year Strategy approach for long-term restoration.

Visit this web site periodically to learn of upcoming activities associated with Bucket 2 Planning efforts in Texas, especially those scheduled to receive public input.


About RESTORE

The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012, or The RESTORE Act. The RESTORE Act dedicates 80 percent of any civil and administrative penalties paid under the Clean Water Act, after the enactment of the RESTORE Act, by responsible parties in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Trust Fund for ecosystem restoration, economic recovery, and tourism promotion in the Gulf Coast region. Following resolution of administrative and civil penalties, Texas is expected to receive at least $550 million in RESTORE funds through 2033.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) is charged with helping to restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region by developing and overseeing the implementation of the RESTORE Act.

The Council includes the Governors of the States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Agriculture Army, Homeland Security and the Interior and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner, Toby Baker, has been designated by the Governor of Texas, as the Texas representative on the Council.

In addition, the RESTORE Act authorizes the U.S. Treasury to manage the activities conducted by the states under Buckets 1 (Direct Component) and 5 (Centers of Excellence).

Restore Funds Chart

Funding

The money in the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund will be allocated to the Gulf Coast states and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council according to the following guidelines:

  • 35 percent divided equally between the five Gulf Coast States to be used for ecosystem restoration, economic development & tourism promotion (Direct Component – Bucket 1);
  • 30 percent for ecosystem restoration under the Comprehensive Plan developed and approved by the Council (Comprehensive Plan Component – Bucket 2);
  • 30 percent divided among the five Gulf Coast States according to a formula to implement State Expenditure Plans, which require Council approval–each Gulf state is guaranteed a minimum of 5 percent of the 30 percent allocation (Spill Impact Component – Bucket 3);
  • 2.5 percent dedicated to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring & Technology Program; and
  • 2.5 percent allocated to the Gulf Coast States to award grants to establish Centers of Excellence/Bucket 5.

Allocation of Funds Under the RESTORE Act

In 2016, the Council and the State of Texas recognize this unique and unprecedented opportunity to implement a coordinated Gulf region-wide restoration effort. The Council’s five goals included in the Plan are: (1) Restore and Conserve Habitat – Restore and conserve the health, diversity, and resilience of key coastal, estuarine, and marine habitats. (2) Restore Water Quality – Restore and protect water quality of the Gulf Coast regions fresh, estuarine, and marine waters. (3) Replenish and Protect Living Coastal and Marine Resources – Restore and protect healthy, diverse, and sustainable living coastal and marine resources. (4) Enhance Community Resilience – Build upon and sustain communities with capacity to adapt to short- and long-term changes. (5) Restore and Revitalize the Gulf Economy – Enhance the sustainability and resiliency of the Gulf economy.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) adopted the 2016 Comprehensive Plan. The Plan provides strategic guidance for the Council to follow as it makes decisions on funding projects and activities aimed at restoring the Gulf of Mexico. The plan provides a framework to implement a coordinated region-wide restoration effort in a way that restores, protects and revitalizes the Gulf Coast region following the DWH oil spill. The Initial Comprehensive Plan provides a framework to implement a coordinated region-wide restoration effort in a way that restores, protects, and revitalizes the Gulf Coast region following the DWH oil spill.

For additional information on the Plan, visit the Council’s website at www.RestoreTheGulf.gov.

RESTORE Eligible Counties Map

TEXAS EFFORTS

In his capacity as TCEQ Commissioner, Toby Baker was appointed by the Governor to perform RESTORE-related duties for Texas, including representing the state on the federal RESTORE Council. Commissioner Baker is responsible for directing the state’s activities to secure RESTORE funds associated with four of the five components under the federal RESTORE Act. These components include: Direct (Bucket 1), Council-Selected (Bucket 2), Spill Impact (Bucket 3), and Centers of Excellence (Bucket 5).

Information on Individual RESTORE Bucket Activities

Direct Component (Bucket 1) – Updated June 2018

On-going Process

With the acceptance by Treasury of the Texas MIP, Commissioner Baker has directed staff to begin federal applications for 23 of the 26 projects listed in the accepted MIP. Those applications for grant awards are expected to be submitted to Treasury for their approval beginning in mid to late summer.

Due to on-going payments into the federal RESTORE Trust Fund, approximately $97 million is currently available to Texas for MIP-accepted projects. Projects moving forward to the application phase were selected by Commissioner Baker using his discretionary authority and in consultation with the Office of the Governor. Factors that were considered included whether the projects (1) strengthen coastal resiliency, (2) stimulate local coastal economies, (3) increase tourism, and (4) establish a foundation for future economic and ecosystem restoration through careful planning and study. Consideration was also given to projects that had a strong economic component in addition to ecological restoration. Finally, these projects were also selected to provide funding for as many RESTORE eligible counties as possible, as well as to ensure a cross-section of projects that addressed as many of the RESTORE eligible activities as possible.

Any questions concerning the Bucket 1/MIP process discussed above should be directed to the TCEQ’s Procurement and Contracts section in the Office of Administrative Services at arthur.french@tceq.texas.gov.

Council-Selected (Bucket 2) – Updated June 2018

In late April, the federal RESTORE Council awarded TCEQ a 5-year Bucket 2 Planning Grant totaling $2.1 million. The grant start date was June 1, 2018. These grant funds will be used in support of work to coordinate with Texas coastal experts, elected officials, representatives for NRDA and NFWF, the four RESTORE Gulf states, federal entities and the public, using the best available science, in meeting the requirements of the RESTORE Council-Selected Restoration Component (Bucket 2) and the commitments of the Comprehensive Plan 2016 update.

The grant activities will focus on addressing and determining planning needs and identifying project proposals for the next Bucket 2 Funded Priority List (FPL) and to set up the foundation for successful long-term restoration projects. TCEQ expects to hire a contractor to conduct planning and collaboration activities over the grant cycle to compile information that the state will use to determine the highest level of restoration needs along the Texas coast, as well as the Gulf coast, and to provide the basis for a 10-year Strategy approach for long-term restoration.

Visit this web site periodically to learn of upcoming activities associated with Bucket 2 Planning efforts in Texas, especially those scheduled to receive public input.

Approximately $26 million for six projects were approved for Texas. Four of the six projects in Texas will be managed by the state, through the TCEQ. Those projects include: Matagorda Bay System Landscape Conservation, Bayou Greenways, Bahia Grande Coastal Corridor, and Texas Beneficial Use and Marsh Restoration.

The projects and activities will be funded using civil penalties resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Bucket 2 – DOI/NOAA FPL Project in Texas

A Bucket 2 FPL-1 project was awarded to DOI/NOAA to engage the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Conservation Corps (“GulfCorps”) Program in developing a Gulf-wide conservation corps that will contribute to meaningful Gulf of Mexico ecosystem restoration benefiting coastal habitat and water quality in each of the Gulf coast states, while economically benefiting coastal communities through education, training, and employment opportunities. The GulfCorps will recruit, train, and employ workers to implement habitat restoration projects and develop skills in support of long-term Gulf coast restoration.

NOAA established a cooperative agreement with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to develop and administer the GulfCorps program within each Gulf state, including Texas. Activities conducted by the Texas GulfCorps crew in the spring of 2018 included:

At the Armand Bayou Nature Center Stewardship, the crew:

  • constructed and installed dozens of nesting platforms at the island with the heron and egret rookery;
  • cut and removed Chinese Tallow on 5.8 acres of land;
  • spot-treated the cut-stumps of those invasive species with herbicide to hamper re-growth;
  • they removed 18 cubic feet of trash;
  • planted 0.4 acres of saltmarsh species; and
  • removed 300 feet of obstructing fence lines.

At the Artist Boat’s Coastal Heritage Preserve Stewardship, the crew:

  • cut and remove Chinese Tallow on 4.55 acres of land;
  • spot-treated the cut-stumps of those invasive species with herbicide to hamper re-growth;
  • cleared almost 100 cubic feet of underbrush;
  • constructed 90 feet of new fence line; and
  • conducted fuel reduction thinning on 0.2 acres.

Additionally, the Texas crew received training in the following:

  • Invasive Species Identification
  • Herbicide Application
  • Trail Building Training
  • Wilderness First Aid/CPR
  • Chainsaw Certification and Training
  • Tree Felling Training
  • Coastal Prairie Ecosystems and Rookery Dynamics Educational Training
  • SeaGrant Marine Mammal Oil Spill Response Seminar
  • Risk Management; Group Dynamics; Conservation Ethics; Diversity and Inclusion.

Crew activities will begin again in September 2018.

See specific information on all the selected projects.

Spill Impact (Bucket 3) – Updated June 2018

As the Texas representative overseeing the implementation of the federal RESTORE Act, Commissioner Baker has submitted an administrative update to the RESTORE Council on the State’s efforts to develop a State Expenditure Plan (SEP). The SEP is required for the state to secure federal grant funds under the Spill Impact Component (Bucket 3) of the Act.

The administrative update outlines the steps that will be taken to develop the SEP. Initial efforts to develop a draft SEP have begun and a posting of the draft document for public comment is expected this summer. Please visit this site periodically for updates.

The Council has adopted the final rule to implement Bucket 3 (Spill Impact) of the RESTORE Act. Texas’s initial efforts to develop the required State Expenditure Plan (SEP) to secure these funds from the RESTORE Council have begun. Check this site for an update on the status of those efforts which is expected to be posted around November/December 2017.

Centers of Excellence (Bucket 5)

Texas was the first state in the nation to receive money from the RESTORE Trust Fund through an award from the U.S. Treasury to fund two Centers of Excellence. The two centers, Texas OneGulf, at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi and Subsea Systems Institute, at the University of Houston, equally share an initial $4.038 million. The establishment of the centers is part of Texas’ ongoing implementation of the RESTORE Act which requires that the five Gulf States affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill establish centers to conduct research on the Gulf Coast Region.

An amended award for Bucket 5 funds have been made by Treasury. The amended award provides an additional $1 million to each of the two Texas Centers of Excellence through 2019, for a total of $3.018 million each. The additional funds will support both the projects conducted by the Centers, as well as the Centers’ administrative expenses.

The Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence, established in January 2015 and led by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is a consortium of Texas marine oriented science and human health institutions. Their efforts focus on research activities that emphasize sustainable and resilient growth, as well as economic and commercial development in the coastal region.

For more information on the Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence, visit the Texas OneGulf website at http://www.texasonegulf.org/

The Subsea Systems Institute was established in 2015 under collaboration between the University of Houston, Rice University and the Johnson Space Center (NASA). Their focus is offshore energy development, including research and technology to improve the sustainable and safe development of energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information on the Subsea Institute, visit http://www.uh.edu/uh-energy/research/subsea-institute/

TxRAB

Governor Rick Perry established the Texas RESTORE Advisory Board (TxRAB) to advise and assist TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker in performing his duties under the RESTORE Act. TxRAB members, representing 10 state agencies and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism, will assist in developing the required RESTORE Act plans as well as provide guidance and counsel regarding the allocation of RESTORE Act funds.

Public Participation

Please check this website periodically for opportunities for public participation, as well as updates on on-going activities.

Links to Past RESTORE Documents

Click on a link below to download the document:

Press Release

Commissioner Baker Announces MIP Acceptance by Treasury (December 2017).
View the Press Release

MIP Acceptance Letter

View the Acceptance Letter

Final MIP (December 2017)

View the Final MIP

“CONSERVE, RESTORE, RENEW”

The Framework Document outlines the importance of the Texas coast and Texas’ implementation of the RESTORE Act. View the FRAMEWORK Document.

Commissioner Baker’s presentation to Golden Triangle Days (March 2017)

View the presentation

Deepwater Horizon (February 2017)

View the Deepwater Horizon presentation

Commissioner Baker Testifies at House Natural Resources Committee Hearing (April 26, 2016)

View Commissioner Baker’s presentation

Commissioner Baker’s Editorial on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, “From Destruction, Restoration” (March 14, 2016)

View the editorial

Direct Component “Bucket 1” Workshops (February 2016)

View the presentation

RESTORE Listening Sessions (September 2015)

View the presentation

 

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