Posted on November 13, 2023
The Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council has added $33 million to the funds allocated to restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast area.
The Nov. 1 vote by the council to add the money brings total spending under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) to over $202 million for ecosystem restoration, economic recovery and tourism promotion for Alabama.
The RESTORE Act designates 80% of the penalties related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to protecting and restoring the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2012 and has funded many environmental restoration projects in Alabama and other Gulf states over the past several years. The funds will expire in 2031.
The council said the additional $33 million was needed to augment the budgets of projects that have already been approved “in response to cost increases for labor, materials, and/or other considerations,” according to the amendment.
The Deepwater Horizon Restoration Coordinator at the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (ADCNR), Amy Hunter, says she hopes these projects serve as the beginning of generational projects that continue to improve the environment.
“ADCNR is just the administrator of the money,” Hunter said. “The people who do the projects The boots on the ground are the citizens and the workers in all the little towns everywhere from Dauphin Island to Orange Beach. So I am continually amazed by how hard they are all working to get these projects done.”
The 12 projects that the council allocated extra money to are:
- Orange Beach Wildlife Rehab Center – $225,000
- Auburn University Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station – $700,000
- Geological Survey of Alabama Characterization of Sand Resources – $150,000
- Chickasaw Sewer Rehab – $1,310,000
- Bayou La Batre Extension of Effluent Force Main – $1,981,000
- Lillian Park Beach – $300,000
- Perch Creek Sewer – $6,210,000
- Mobile Storm Water Mapping – $550,000
- Three Mile Creek Restoration – $6,321,000
- Fort Morgan Parkway Trail – $2,300,000
- Meaher Park Improvements – $500,000
- Little Lagoon Restoration – $2,390,000
The additional $10 million is allocated to contingency, allowing these projects security from halting due to fluctuating costs of labor and materials.
There are currently over 150 projects that have been funded by the Deepwater Horizon restoration funds, according to the council’s website. Projects range from restoring beaches and protecting threatened wildlife to enhancing tourism appeal by improving public access to the waters.