Stakeholders pledge support for Gulf oil-spill cleanup

The leaders of the oil spill recovery effort expressed a continued commitment to ensure the Gulf of Mexico recovers from the disaster.

Five years after the nation’s largest off-shore oil spill, the leaders of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recovery effort expressed a continued commitment to ensure that the Gulf of Mexico fully recovers from the disaster, saying the recovery is “by no means complete.”

The recovery effort leaders reaffirming support for the cleanup included the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Although involved in separate processes with different responsibilities, the leaders of these efforts said they are coordinating with one another to ensure their efforts fit together for the benefit of the Gulf environment and the people the spill affected.

“Five years after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the council’s mission remains critical to restoring the ecosystem and economy for the people who live, work and play in the Gulf region,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who is chairwoman of the Gulf Restoration Council, said in a statement. “We will continue doing everything we can in coordination with our partners and stakeholders in the region to make sure the Gulf Coast comes back stronger and more vibrant than before the disaster.”

The council expects to publish an initial draft funded priorities list for public comment and then select projects for funding later this year.

“We recognize that the public is depending upon us to hold BP and others accountable,” current NRDA trustee chairman Samuel Plauché said.

Plauché was speaking on behalf of the trustees, a coalition of state and federal agencies charged with identifying the harm to natural resources caused by the spill, developing a complete natural resource restoration plan and recovering the costs of implementing the plan from responsible parties such as BP.

“Restoration of the Gulf ’s natural resources is by no means complete,” Plauché said. “A growing body of scientific evidence is helping the NRDA Trustees learn more about the injuries sustained. This evidence has guided early restoration, and as a result we have initiated 54 projects, totaling nearly $700 million. While positive, this is just the beginning of restoration. We will continue to assess the full extent of the injury to our cherished natural resources to ensure restoration occurs.”