WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 10, 2015) - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the award of more than $80 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) to 22 projects in the states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas. The projects, developed in consultation with state and federal resource agencies, are designed to remedy harm and reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Today’s announcement represents the third obligation of funds available to support projects in each state from the payments received thus far by the GEBF. To date, the fund has received $850 million dollars, and has obligated more than $480 million, or more than 56 percent of available funds.
NFWF created the GEBF two and a half years ago as the vehicle to receive and administer funds resulting from remedial orders in the plea agreements between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP and Transocean. The plea agreements resolved certain criminal charges against both companies relating to the 2010 oil spill. Provisions within the agreements direct a total of $2.544 billion to NFWF over a five-year period to be used to support projects that remedy harm to natural resources in the Gulf States.
“The model for the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund remains one of partnerships,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Successful engagement between NFWF and our partners – state resource agencies, federal agencies, and other public and private partners – remains the cornerstone that guides our project selection processes. Together, we continue to identify and fund projects that will have significant ecological benefits to Gulf of Mexico natural resources and the communities that enjoy and rely on them every day. The projects we announce today represent both continuations of existing efforts and expansions into new conservation areas, all with a focus on maximizing benefits to wildlife, habitats and people.”
Under the allocation formula and other provisions contained in the plea agreements, the GEBF will receive a total of about $1.2 billion for barrier island and river diversion projects in Louisiana, in addition to about $356 million each for projects in the states of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, and $203 million for projects in Texas.
“The Gulf Coast supports some of the world’s most diverse wildlife habitats, including coastal wetlands and estuaries that are critical for millions of migratory birds, as well as some of the world’s largest fisheries,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Helping these vital areas recover from the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is a monumental task – one made easier by these and other strategic, partnership-driven restoration projects supported by the GEBF. Working together, we’re making a difference for the Gulf and its wildlife, as well as millions of people who share the landscape and make their living from it.”
“This third round of projects continues to support the transformation of long-recognized Gulf ecosystem restoration needs into reality,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator. “When combined with projects to be funded under the RESTORE Act, and work under the proposed Natural Resource Damage Restoration Plan, it can lead to an unprecedented revitalization of the entire Gulf of Mexico.”
As required under the plea agreements, NFWF consulted with state resource agencies, as well as with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to identify potential project priorities and funding needs. The discussions ensured coordination between NFWF’s GEBF and the agencies’ related activities under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and RESTORE Act programs.
The projects announced today will complement those previously announced or under consideration under these two additional significant programs. Collectively, and where appropriate, these efforts will be coordinated and leveraged to advance Gulf Coast conservation and maximize sustainable environmental benefits.
NFWF, a congressionally chartered non-profit corporation, is one of the largest conservation funders in the United States. It is subject to oversight by Congress and a board of directors that includes the heads of the FWS and NOAA, as well as representatives from states, non-governmental organizations and industry. The board is appointed by the Secretary of the Interior.
For additional information on state-specific projects, please view the full press release or see the list of Texas projects below: