Projects that will restore the environmental and economic health of the Texas Gulf coast are closer to receiving millions of dollars in grant funds as of October 31st under the federal RESTORE Act, the law created to respond the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill. Commissioner Toby Baker of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, who Governor Abbott designated to implement the RESTORE Act program for Texas, announced the submission of Texas’ Multi-Year Implementation Plan to U.S. Department of Treasury—the next required step in securing funds for Texas under the Direct Component, also known as “Bucket 1,” of the federal RESTORE Act.
The MIP, which includes a list of specific projects, complies with the RESTORE Act requirement that activities directly benefit the coastal area. While planning for these funds began long before Hurricane Harvey developed, and are not related to hurricane relief, many areas devastated by the storm will benefit. The plan was developed as part of a robust, competitive process. Four listening sessions were held in coastal communities for stakeholders. Then, three workshops were conducted in Corpus Christi, South Padre Island, and Houston using a web-based training developed and posted on the RESTORE website to make sure the public understood the process. During the public comment period, more than a thousand public comments were received and reviewed on the Texas draft list of projects before it was finalized.
Twenty-six projects are included in the MIP with an estimated total cost of $114.2 million. At this time, approximately $85.6 million is available to Texas under the Bucket 1 program. These projects directly affect 12 coastal counties, with three conducting coast-wide activities.
Once the MIP has been accepted by Treasury, Commissioner Baker, in conjunction with the Office of the Governor, will decide which federal applications will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Treasury based on available funding. As more funds become available, additional applications for projects included in the accepted plan can be advanced.