UPDATE: Draft Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MIP) for Bucket 1 Funding – July 13, 2017
The public comment period for the draft MIP ended on June 30, 2017, and over 1,400 comments were received. The comments are being reviewed as the next stage in the on-going evaluation process to determine activities for inclusion in Texas’ MIP, as well as the final determination of what will be applied for funding and ultimately what will receive funding through grant contracts with the TCEQ. Due to ongoing payments into the RESTORE Trust Fund, the total funding available under the Direct Component (Bucket 1) grant program now exceeds the $56 million originally identified in the RFGA.
UPDATE: Council-Selected Bucket 2 Planning Grant Proposal: Public Comments Requested
The RESTORE Council has posted for public comment a proposal to provide limited RESTORE funds for the Council members (including Texas) to support the Comprehensive Plan commitments and identify future investments that will maximize the ability to achieve Gulf-wide restoration goals. The proposed funds would provide Council members with funding to support collaboration and leveraging that will produce the greatest on-the-ground restoration results possible.
Information on the proposed plan can be found at www.RestoreTheGulf.gov. Comments can be sent at that e-mail address to the Council through August 14, 2017.
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 is chaired by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and includes the Governors of the States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Army, Homeland Security and the Interior and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Toby Baker, Commissioner, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality 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).
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
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 update to its 2013 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.
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).
FRAMEWORK — The Framework Document outlining the importance of the Texas coast and Texas’ implementation of the RESTORE Act, “CONSERVE, RESTORE, RENEW,” has been published.
Information on Individual RESTORE Bucket Activities
Direct Component (Bucket 1)
The review and selection process is competitive and includes elements from other state and federal grant programs. The scoring criteria is based on the Priorities Document and is included in the RFGA. Eligibility for funding requires that activities directly benefit the coastal area and address ecosystem restoration, economic development and/or tourism.
The over 200 applications that were submitted in response to the 2016 RFGA were reviewed and scored by a review team consisting of four state agencies and the Office of the Governor. For the next step in the continuing competitive process, Commissioner Baker, in consultation with the Governor, developed a draft list of activities to be included in the draft MIP.
The draft MIP was published for a 45-day public input period, which ended on June 30, 2017. Due to ongoing payments into the RESTORE Trust Fund, the total funding available under the Direct Component (Bucket 1) grant program now exceeds the $56 million originally identified in the RFGA.
The draft MIP includes the following federally required documents:
- a matrix providing general information on activities considered for inclusion in MIP, including costs to implement the activities and the state’s cost to manage the grants;
- a narrative describing elements of the activities considered for inclusion in the MIP, as well as general information on the review and selection process being employed;
- a map showing the location of the activities that are being considered for inclusion in the MIP; and
- for reference, a draft Project List of activities being considered for inclusion in the MIP.
As part of the on-going evaluation process, Commissioner Baker in consultation with the Governor’s Office will review the public input received and will finalize the state’s MIP that will be submitted to U.S. Treasury for acceptance. This is the next stage as the state continues to determine what activities will be applied for funding and ultimately what will receive funding through grant contracts with the TCEQ.
Federal Requirements – Applicants should be acquainted with the federal terms and conditions governing RESTORE Direct Component Grants.
Council-Selected (Bucket 2)The Funded Priorities List (FPL) was developed by the Council to implement Bucket 2 (Council-Selected) of the federal RESTORE Act. The Council’s Initial FPL, developed under the Council-Selected Restoration Component, was approved on December 9, 2015, and consists of $156.6 million in restoration activities in 10 key watersheds as well as several critical Gulf-wide programs. The Council determined that a watershed/estuary approach would be an effective tool for guiding the selection of projects and programs in a way that advances comprehensive restoration. By identifying and focusing on watersheds, the Council was able to make difficult funding decisions in a way that leverages limited restoration resources for maximum effectiveness, while also supporting planning, science and other activities that can set the stage for future success.
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.
Spill Impact (Bucket 3)
The Council has adopted the final rule to implement Bucket 3 (Spill Impact) of the RESTORE Act. Texas efforts to develop the required State Expenditure Plan (SEP) to secure these funds from the RESTORE Council will begin in late summer of 2017. Check this site periodically for updates on these beginning efforts.
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.
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/
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.
Please check this website periodically for opportunities for public participation, as well as updates on on-going activities.