RESTORE Council Public Meeting Announcement Draft Planning Framework
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) is hosting a public meeting on Thursday, May 30, 2019, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm (CDT). The meeting will be held at Texas A&M University/Corpus Christi, at the Harte Research Institute, (HRI), in room 127. Texas A&M University/Corpus Christi is located at 6300 Ocean Dr., Corpus Christi Texas. The campus map shows the location of the HRI building (#1). Parking is available at the Bayside Parking Garage.
At the public meeting, the RESTORE Council staff will present an overview of the draft Planning Framework and receive public comment on the document. The draft Planning Framework document includes specific priorities for Texas and other geographic areas along the Gulf Coast. The draft document is available at www.restorethegulf.gov. The public comment period concludes at 11:59 pm MDT on June 12, 2019. In addition to RESTORE Council staff, representatives from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will be in attendance at the Corpus Christi public meeting. The Executive Director for the TCEQ, Toby Baker, is Texas Governor Abbott’s appointee to the RESTORE Council.
Once finalized, the Planning Framework document will be used by the RESTORE Council members to determine the submission and selection of programs and projects that will be considered for the next round of Bucket 2 funds, referred to as the Funded Priorities List (FPL 3). Approximately $360 million is available for distribution to the five Gulf states. The Planning Framework will ensure that investments in restoration efforts address the priority needs of the Gulf of Mexico. The Planning Framework draft is provided for public comment to support the Council’s commitment to transparency, collaboration, and advancement of best available science in the RESTORE Council’s decision-making process.
Bucket 2 Planning Update
- Posting the Planning Framework Draft for Public Comment
- Public Webinars on the Planning Framework Draft
- Public Meeting in Texas on Planning Framework Draft
Posting the Planning Framework DraftOn April 26, 2019, the RESTORE Council staff will begin a 45-day public review and comment period on the Planning Framework draft, that will conclude at 11:59 pm MDT on June 12, 2019. The Planning Framework draft is available at: www.restorethegulf.gov.
Public WebinarsThe RESTORE Council will host and record two live public webinars on April 29, 2019. During each live webinar, Council staff will present an overview of the Planning Framework draft and respond to selected questions from webinar participants.The registration links for the live Planning Framework Draft- Public Comment webinars are below:
- April 29, 2019 at 2:00 pm (CDT) Webinar Registration Link
- April 29, 2019 at 6:00 pm (CDT) Webinar Registration Link
Upcoming Public Meeting in TexasAt public meetings across the Gulf Coast, RESTORE Council staff will present an overview of the Planning Framework and receive comments. In Texas, the public meeting will be held on Thursday, May 30th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M/Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive. Please continue to visit the website for updates on this and other RESTORE-related activities. If you have any questions, please select the “contact us” button above.
Public MeetingsIn December, Toby Baker, Executive Director of TCEQ and Governor Abbott’s appointee to the RESTORE Council, conducted three public meetings along the Texas coast to receive input from the public on priority issues along the Texas coast, as well as Gulf-wide. The intent of this initial series of public meetings was to gather information to inform Baker’s discussion with the RESTORE Council members as they deliberate on the development of a planning framework document for the Gulf coast. Presentations made at the public meeting by Baker and Dr. Gibeaut from the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M/Corpus Christi, can be accessed “Links to Past RESTORE Documents” at the end of the web page.
Planning Grant AwardIn April 2018, 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 hired a contractor to assist with planning and collaboration activities 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.
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 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 of the 23 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 Restoration & Protection and Flood Protection applications to Treasury. The Workforce Development and Tourism applications are currently being developed. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.