WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced today the award of more than $99.2 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (Gulf Fund) to 25 projects in the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, 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 second obligation of funds available to support projects in each state from the payments received thus far by the Gulf Fund. To date, the Fund has received $511 million, and has obligated $390 million, or more than 75 percent of available dollars.
NFWF created the Gulf Fund 18 months 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 is one of partnership," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "In order to succeed, NFWF must bring together state resource agencies, federal agencies, and other public and private partners, all working in harmony to fund the best projects that will do the most good for the Gulf of Mexico and the communities that depend on it each and every day. The projects we announce today demonstrate the value of our efforts to work in a collaborative fashion to select projects that will provide significant benefits to wildlife and people for many years to come."
Under the allocation formula and other provisions contained in the plea agreements, the Gulf Fund will receive a total of roughly $1.2 billion for barrier island and river diversion projects in Louisiana, in addition to roughly $356 million each for projects in the states of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, and $203 million for projects in Texas.
"The Gulf of Mexico is a national treasure, supporting a vast network of native wildlife and coastal ecosystems while providing jobs and economic growth to millions of Americans. That's why every American has a stake in restoring the Gulf," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. "This week's announcement builds on the initial steps we took last year with the Foundation and our Gulf state partners to begin restoring important parts of the Gulf and its watershed. As we move forward, the Foundation, our partners, and our employees will continue to play a key role in restoring the Gulf and its watershed, thereby meeting the long-term needs of our citizens and these natural resources."
"NOAA is excited to see the next round of projects coming out of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. NFWF's efforts are an important component of comprehensive restoration in the Gulf and will allow us to pursue holistic restoration above and beyond the work being done under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment," said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "NOAA values our partnerships with NFWF, the Gulf States and others as we collectively work to restore and revitalize the Gulf of Mexico resources and communities."
As required under the plea agreements, NFWF consulted with state resource agencies, as well as with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to identify potential project priorities and funding needs. The discussions ensured coordination between NFWF's Gulf Fund and the agencies' related activities under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) 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.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 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 USFWS and NOAA, as well as representatives from states, non-governmental organizations and industry. The board is appointed by the Secretary of the Interior.
CONTACT: Rob Blumenthal, 202-595-2457, email@example.com
Source:National Fish and Wildlife Foundation