UPDATE: Spill Impact Component (Bucket 3 Grant Funds)
As the Texas representative overseeing the implementation of the federal RESTORE Act, Commissioner Baker has directed TCEQ staff to submit 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 in early 2018. Please visit this site periodically for updates.
Baker Pleased to Announce Treasury’s Acceptance of the Texas Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MIP)
In an issued press release, Commissioner Baker announced receipt of a letter from Treasury accepting the MIP that was submitted to them in late October. The final MIP that was accepted differs only slightly from the one that was initially submitted. The primary difference is additional information in the question and action section of the MIP. The list of projects and requested funding amounts did not change.
Due to ongoing payments into the federal RESTORE Trust Fund, at this time, approximately $85.6 million is available to Texas under the Bucket 1 program. Since the estimated cost of projects in the MIP exceeds current available funds, it is important to note that the eligible projects/activities listed in the matrix section of the MIP is not intended as a ranking that determines the order of when funds will be requested. Based on the accepted MIP, Commissioner Baker will work with the Office of the Governor to decide which federal applications will be submitted to Treasury. Those decisions will be based on available funding and in accordance with all applicable state law governing sub-awards. As more funds become available, additional applications for projects included in the accepted MIP can be advanced.
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 email@example.com.
UPDATE: Council-Selected Bucket 2 Planning Grant Proposal
The RESTORE Council accepted public comments through August 14, 2017 on the 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.
The RESTORE Council is currently reviewing comments received and preparing the final proposal for adoption. Adoption is now expected by the end of 2017. Information on the proposed plan can be found at www.RestoreTheGulf.gov.
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).
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).
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.
Over 200 applications were submitted in response to the 2016 RFGA. These applications were reviewed and scored by a review team consisting of four state agencies and the Office of the Governor. Commissioner Baker, in consultation with the Governor, developed a draft list of activities to be included in the draft MIP.
The draft MIP included 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.
The draft MIP was published for a 45-day public input period, which ended on June 30, 2017. Commissioner Baker, in consultation with the Governor’s Office, reviewed the 1,400 public comments received and finalized the Texas MIP. The Texas MIP was submitted on October 30, 2017 and accepted by the U.S. Treasury on December 18, 2017.
The next step in the on-going competitive process is to determine what projects will be applied for funding and ultimately which ones 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’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.
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.