WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson convened an official meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force today in Mobile, Alabama. During the meeting, the task force created a citizens’ advisory committee to help guide the group’s efforts and released a strategy background document outlining the priorities of the ongoing gulf restoration. The meeting in Alabama furthered the task force’s ongoing commitment to supporting the conservation and restoration of resilient and healthy ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico.
Jackson proposed to establish and support a 25-member Gulf of Mexico Citizen Advisory Committee during the meeting, acknowledging the need to ensure residents and local organizations have a formal process to offer input and guidance on the work of the task force and to voice environmental concerns. The newly formed committee will hold its first official meeting later this summer.
“Since President Obama first formed this task force, our focus has been on collecting the ideas and input of gulf residents,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “We’ve made clear that restoration plans should come from the gulf to Washington, and we’re counting on the people who know these areas best to shape our work through public meetings like this one, through the Citizens’ Advisory Committee and other efforts.”
During the meeting, the task force also identified four key priorities for the ongoing restoration of the gulf, including enhancing community resilience, restoring and conserving habitat, restoring water quality, and replenishing and protecting living coastal and marine resources. The priorities were developed based upon input from the general public and key stakeholder groups throughout the region. The task force plans for the priorities to serve as the main restorations goals and will identify specific actions to help to achieve these goals.
The Mobile meeting was the latest in a series of meetings that the task force is holding throughout the five gulf states. Previous meetings were held in New Orleans and Pensacola. President Obama issued an executive order in October to create the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, continuing the administration’s ongoing commitment to the gulf region. The task force works to integrate federal restoration efforts with those of local stakeholders and state and tribal governments, and to facilitate accountability and support throughout the restoration process.
More information on the task force: http://www.epa.gov/