TCEQ Executive Director and Governor Abbott’s appointee to the RESTORE Council Toby Baker’s presentation at the September 9 and September 10 public meetings.
PROPOSED PRE-PROPOSALS FOR BUCKET 2 FUNDING
PUBLIC MEETINGS AND COMMENT PERIODWith the approval of the RESTORE Council’s Planning Framework document, Toby Baker, Texas’ appointee to the RESTORE Council and TCEQ Executive Director, is developing the programs/projects that will be submitted as pre-proposals to the RESTORE Council for Bucket 2 funding consideration. As part of that effort, Baker is hosting two public meetings to receive public comment on identified proposed programs/projects. Working with various Texas based workgroups and County Judges representing RESTORE eligible counties, Baker has identified programs/projects that are being considered for submission as pre-proposals to the RESTORE Council. These identified programs/projects will be the focus of public meetings and requested public comment. Baker is asking for the public to comment on each of the 23 potential programs/projects listed under 17 designations. Some of the 16 designations include more than one project and we are asking that comments reflect on each of the individual projects, including prioritizing between grouped projects. In developing comments, it would be useful to refer to a project’s connection to the issues listed in the RESTORE Council’s Planning Framework, particularly the Texas and Chenier Plan sections. As a reminder, the Planning Framework was developed with public input and will be used by Council members to select programs/projects for funding under the next round of Bucket 2, referred to as FPL3. The Planning Framework can be accessed at www.restorethegulf.gov. As Texas’ appointee to the Council, Baker is authorized to submit six projects for consideration for the next round of Bucket 2 funding estimated at $360 million for the five Gulf states. His selection of projects for submission will be made in consultation with Governor Abbott’s office.The public meetings will be held:Monday, September 9, 2019
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm
- Galveston Convention Center
- Ballroom C
- 5600 Seawall Blvd
- Galveston, Texas
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm
- Texas A&M/Corpus Christi
- Harte Research Institute, Room 127
- 6300 Ocean Drive
- Corpus Christi, Texas
Announcement: Request for ProposalsThe TCEQ has posted the following Request for Proposals (RFP): Oversight and Monitoring Services for Restore Act Grant Projects. The solicitation number is 582-20-10405 and involves Class 926, Items 40, 42 and 72 and Class 958, Items 25, 26 and 77. The RFP can be accessed through the Electronic State Business Daily (ESDB) web site. On the web site, in the “Solicitation ID/PO Number ” field, enter the solicitation number (582-20-10405) and then click on “Search” to access this solicitation. The deadline for submitting proposals in response to the RFP is 3:00 pm (central time) on Thursday, September 12th. A pre-proposal conference has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 20th, 2019 at 9:30 A.M. (Central Time). Attendance at the pre-proposal conference is not mandatory; however, attendance is strongly recommended. The location of the Pre-Proposal Conference is at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building D, Conference Room 191, Austin, TX 78753. Through this RFP, the TCEQ is seeking a Contractor(s) to provide scientific and technical services to assist TCEQ with its duties related to monitoring and oversight of funded projects awarded to Texas under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economics of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act). The Contract may also be utilized at the discretion of TCEQ for other activities related to the RESTORE Act program. All questions concerning the RFP must be presented through the ESDB site, listed above.
Bucket 3 Texas State Expenditure Plan ApprovedOn March 4, 2019, Toby Baker, TCEQ Executive Director and Governor Abbott’s appointee to the RESTORE Council, received approval of Texas’ Initial State Expenditure Plan (SEP). As a reminder, the initial SEP focuses on Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts and is a programmatic plan addressing the distribution of approximately $31 million in RESTORE Bucket 3 funds. Other plans will be developed in later years as additional Bucket 3 funds become available. Texas is expected to receive a total of $121 million by the end of 2031. With the approval of the Texas programmatic SEP the next steps to secure the Bucket 3 funds for Texas projects are outlined below:
- TCEQ develops and submits to the RESTORE Council staff federal applications for each of the four programmatic areas in the approved SEP.
- Once the RESTORE Council has awarded grants for each of the four programmatic areas, 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, Baker, and the Commission to Rebuild Texas (CRT), a Governor-established Commission to manage Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. The extensive project lists that have been compiled by CRT following the hurricane will be used in determining which projects are most needed and are eligible to receive RESTORE funds through the Bucket 3 SEP component of the RESTORE Act.
- eligible activity;
- authorized geographic location; and
- qualified recipient type.
Update on Bucket 1 MIPTCEQ RESTORE staff continue to prepare federal applications for submission to Treasury to receive grant awards for Bucket 1 funds. TCEQ will submit seven federal applications consisting of 22 of the 26 projects in the accepted Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MIP). The applications are based on the following primary eligible activities: Restoration & Protection; Mitigation; Promotion of Consumption of Seafood; Planning Assistance; Tourism; Flood Protection; and Workforce Development. Each of the 22 projects will be included in one of the seven applications associated with the eligible activity that it was listed under in the MIP. Staff has submitted the following applications to Treasury: Restoration & Protection (four projects); Flood Protection (five projects); and Workforce Development (two projects). The Tourism application (six projects) is currently being finalized. As a reminder, approximately $97 million is currently available to Texas under Bucket 1. Projects moving forward to the application phase were selected by then TCEQ 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 email@example.com.
About RESTOREThe 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).
FundingThe 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 ActIn 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.
TEXAS EFFORTSIn 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. 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). Baker’s gubernatorial appointment to the Council remained in place when he became the TCEQ Executive Director.
RESTORE Components (Buckets)
Direct Component (Bucket 1)Under Bucket 1, 35% of the RESTORE Funds are available in equal amounts to each of the five Gulf Coast states. Each state must submit a Multiyear Implementation Plan (MIP) to the U.S. Treasury prior to receiving grant awards. Funds under Bucket 1 provide the Gulf states with the most discretion in selecting projects to receive grants. Projects receiving Bucket 1 funds must address ecosystem restoration and economic development along the Texas Coast. See above for updates on the latest Bucket 1 activities.
Council-Selected Component (Bucket 2)The RESTORE Council receives 30% of the total RESTORE funds to support Bucket 2 projects. Projects funded under Bucket 2 implement the RESTORE Council’s Comprehensive Plan. The grant funds can be used for ecosystem restoration and protection in the Gulf Coast region. Council Members, representing the five Gulf Coast states and six federal agencies, submit projects to the RESTORE Council for consideration. Project selection is competitive and is based on priority criteria presented in the federal RESTORE Act. Under the first round of Bucket 2 funding, referred to as FPL 1, 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. Also under FPL 1, ,NOAA, through the U.S. Department of Interior, was awarded grant funds 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 recruits, trains, and employs 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: 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;
- removed 18 cubic feet of trash; planted 0.4 acres of saltmarsh species; and
- removed 300 feet of obstructing fence lines.
- cut and removed 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.
- 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 began again in September 2018. See specific information on all the NOAA-selected projects.