Through the RESTORE Act, the U.S. Congress established the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council in July 2012, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Composed of governors from the five Gulf Coast states and representatives from six federal agencies, the council is responsible for developing a plan to restore the ecosystem and economy of the region.

On May 23, the council released for public comment a draft plan and the companion Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment. In addition to establishing the council, the RESTORE Act established the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Trust Fund. The draft plan covers how projects will be solicited and evaluated for funding. It also describes a process for the development, review, and approval of state expenditure plans and outlines the council’s next steps.

The plan emphasizes ecosystem restoration that restores habitat and improves storm resiliency and water quality, in addition to making communities more vibrant and livable. Projects will also aim to create jobs and business opportunities. Possible programs include wetland and shoreline restoration, agricultural conservation practices, low-impact development, and more.

The council will hold a series of workshops throughout the Gulf Coast states during the month of June. Public comments are due by June 24, and the council expects to release a final plan this summer. Read more.