On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded causing the largest offshore oil spill in the United States. Oil flowed unchecked for three months and millions of barrels of crude oil were released before the well was capped. The disaster led to thousands of square miles of federal waters closed to fishing and caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and tourism.
On July 6, 2012, the President signed into law the Federal Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). This act aims to hold the parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster accountable for restoring the Gulf of Mexico’s environmental and economic recovery.
The RESTORE Act established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund to be held by the U.S. Treasury Department. Eighty percent of the administrative and civil penalties paid after July 6, 2012, under the Clean Water Act in connection with the Gulf oil spill will be deposited into the Trust Fund and invested in programs, projects and activities that restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region. Learn more about the RESTORE Act.
The Gulf Consortium consists of 23 Gulf Coast counties that came together to meet requirements of the RESTORE Act to develop a State Expenditure Plan. The Consortium Board of Directors consists of one representative from each county government. Commissioner Wayne Dukes serves for Hernando County. As a public entity, the Consortium must meet all government transparency requirements in Florida, including open public records and meetings, ethics and state auditing obligations. Learn more about the Gulf Consortium.
What This Means for Hernando County
The RESTORE Act created a specified funding allocation to each state affected by the Gulf oil spill. Hernando County has been authorized as one of the 23 Florida Gulf Coast counties to be eligible to apply for and receive funds from the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.
A portion of the State Allocation and Expenditure, also known as the Direct Component, may be available in 2015. The federal government and Transocean have agreed to a settlement which will provide an estimated $686,000 to Hernando County after an approved Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MYIP) is in place. It is anticipated that the MYIP for this funding will include a list of projects prioritized for implementation when funds become available. Download the RESTORE Act flier to learn more about how the funding can be used.
The County may also compete for additional funding by submitting applications through the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Federal Council, Pot 2) and through the Gulf Coast Consortium (State Consortium, Pot 3). Although the RESTORE Act set up specific funding allocations, the exact monetary amounts will not be known until the civil penalties for all responsible parties have been settled.
Multi-Year Implementation Plan
Projects meeting RESTORE Act criteria along with a Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MYIP) were approved by the Board of County Commissioners at a public meeting and accepted by the Treasury on August 6, 2015. This plan has since been updated and amendment one is available for public review and comment for 45 days. After the public comment period, the plan will be resubmitted to the Board of County Commissi oners for approval then re-submitted to the Treasury for acceptance.