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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Bromwich’

From the Oval Office, Promises for Gulf Coast Restoration, MMS Rehab

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

We’ll look at the energy aspects of President Obama’s Tuesday Oval Office address “in the coming days” (as he might say). Meanwhile, we want to focus on two of the most promising elements of the president’s remarks (text here). First, about three minutes in, he pledged to appoint former Mississippi governor and now navy secretary Ray Mabus (a Democrat) to develop a Gulf Coast Restoration Plan.

Beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment. [emphasis added]

I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.

The president recognizes that the land and the people of the Gulf Coast are still recovering from the ravages of Katrina and Rita (among other hurricanes) and that the oil industry has wrought damages in the delicate Louisiana marshlands over many decades. We are pleased to hear that a Gulf Coast Restoration Plan will be forthcoming—Obama himself outlined a recovery plan for New Orleans when he was running for president, though not in as fine a detail as John Edwards’s plan—but we want serious follow-up, close monitoring by the White House. To whom does Secretary Mabus report? When is the plan due? Obama says that the plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other Gulf residents.” We’d like to see conservationists closer to the front of that advisory panel, up there with “tribes, fishermen.”