Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force
In October 2010, following the recommendation of Navy Secretary Mabus, President Obama created the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. Visit the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Task Force website for additional information.
The Task Force is an advisory body composed of federal and Gulf state leaders. It was tasked with the broad mandate of coordinating efforts to address the decades of decline in the Gulf ecosystem and coming up with a strategy for rebuilding the ecosystem. Therefore their mission includes but is not limited to responding to the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
After its formation, the Task Force spent a year researching the issues and hosting public meetings throughout the Gulf. In October 2011, it released a draft regional restoration strategy and invited public comment. In December 2011 it released the final report (see below).
One of the Task Force’s recommendations was for Congress to make the federal-state partnership permanent by creating a successor coordinating body following the Task Force’s completion of its duties. In July 2012 the RESTORE Act accomplished this by creating the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. The Gulf Restoration Council must incorporate the Task Force’s recommendations into a comprehensive plan for Gulf ecosystem restoration, which will guide expenditures from the Gulf Coast Trust Fund (see the explanation of the Fund under “Clean Water Act & RESTORE”). Thus, in September 2012 President Obama issued Executive Order 13,626, which calls for the Task Force to disband 60 days after the Gulf Restoration Council commences its work.
The Task Force’s Restoration Strategy
The Task Force published its long-term strategy for Gulf restoration and conservation at the end of 2011. The final Gulf of Mexico Regional Ecosystem Restoration Strategy details major, coordinated actions required to achieve four primary Gulf restoration goals:
2. Restore water quality;
3. Replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources; and
4. Enhance community resilience.
Some key areas of concern cited by the Strategy are: wetland loss; excess flow of nutrients from the Mississippi River; and the vulnerability of coastal communities to storms and sea level rise.