The RESTORE Act allocates 80 percent of the amount of any Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast.
Under RESTORE, the fines are divided into several different sources of funding, with different permissible uses and various methods for approving projects. Importantly, 75 percent of Florida's allocation will come directly to the eight disproportionately impacted panhandle counties which include Santa Rosa, Escambia, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla counties.
The amount of the fine has not yet been determined by the U.S. Department of Justice and there is no definitive time line for when dollars may actually start flowing to the region. However, Santa Rosa County remains engaged at all levels of government to see that our county takes full advantage of this opportunity (click here to see flow chart of oil spill funds in Florida). Santa Rosa County could receive $20-56 million, and it is imperative that these funds be spent wisely.
While the process is still evolving, there are two significant steps which need to be completed for the funding to move forward- the fine/ settlement agreement and the drafting and approval of the regulations for the actual implementation of the RESTORE act by the U.S. Treasury Department. The Treasure's proposed guidelines published on Sept. 6 are available by clicking here. The public comment period is 60 days and the final guidelines are anticipated to be published soon after. However, the framework for developing a multi-year plan for Santa Rosa and the state of Florida through the Santa Rosa County Local RESTORE Council and the Gulf Consortium is taking shape now.
Santa Rosa County Local RESTORE Council
On Aug. 16, 2012 Santa Rosa County Commissioners passed a resolution which established the frame work for the county's local RESTORE council. This council is mandated by the RESTORE Act is tasked with reviewing projects to determine if they are eligible. The local council will make recommendations to the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners and is the first venue for the public to participate in the selection process for RESTORE Act projects.
The Santa Rosa RESTORE Council is made up of 11 members. Five are appointed by the commission with an expertise in a pertinent area such as the environment, economic development or tourism.
Local Restore Council Members District 1: Cal Bodenstein District 2: Rob Williamson District 3: Donna Tucker District 4: Greg Fountain District 5: Dave Robau City of Gulf Breeze: Buzz Eddy City of Milton: Brian Watkins Navarre Beach Area Chamber: Tony Alexander Town of Jay: Shon Owens BOCC Representative: Commissioner Lane Lynchard BOCC Board Chairman: Commissioner Jim Melvin
Local RESTORE Project Ideas
Santa Rosa's Local RESTORE Council is interested in project ideas from individuals and organizations. Persons wishing to submit their ideas for possible Santa Rosa RESTORE Act project funding may complete the RESTORE Act Proposed Project Information Form. Projects must focus on one or more of the eligible activities:
Restoration/protection of natural resource
Mitigation of damage to fish, wildlife & natural resources
Implementation of federally approved marine, coastal or conservation management
Workforce development and job creation
Improve State Parks in coastal areas affected by oil spill
Infrastructure projects benefiting economy or ecological resources
Coastal flood protection and related infrastructure
Promotion of tourism and seafood in the Gulf Coast region
Please understand that submission of a preliminary project using this form or any other avenue in no way assures applicants that the project will receive funding. This is simply an initial information form. The process of how project ideas will be officially submitted, reviewed and selected is still evolving. At this time, the Local RESTORE Council has not developed processes for reviewing the preliminary project submittals. The regulations for the implementation of the RESTORE Act have not yet been finalized by the U.S. Treasury Department and a settlement with British Petroleum has not been reached, therefore projects cannot yet formally be submitted or approved for funding by the Santa Rosa County Commission.
Information collected will be reviewed by the Local RESTORE Council pursuant to guidelines which it will establish. Completing the RESTORE Act Proposed Project Information Form will not be the only mechanism for the collection of project information, as it is the Local RESTORE Council's goal to solicit project ideas through a variety of outlets to insure that RESTORE funds are allocated to those projects which best meet the criteria established by the RESTORE Act.
OTHER FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
State of Florida RESTORE Funds and the Gulf Consortium
Through the Gulf Consortium, Santa Rosa is working with the other impacted costal Florida counties and the Florida Association of Counties to develop a plan for accepting and processing project proposals for the state portion of RESTORE Act Funds. The consortium will not oversee any county direct RESTORE funding, but the state's allocation of funds. Fore more information, visit http://www.fl-counties.com/advocacy/hot-topics/restore-act
Natural Resource Damage Assessment or NRDA
In addition to the direct allocation funding and state allocation funding, Santa Rosa County will be vying for funding from the balance of the fine money, as well as environmental and recreational projects under Natural Resource Damage Assessment or NRDA. A Natural Resource Damage Assessment is a legal process under the Oil Pollution Act that authorizes certain federal agencies, states, and Indian tribes-collectively known as natural resource trustees-to evaluate the impacts of oil spills, ship groundings, and hazardous substance releases on natural resources. The trustees are responsible for studying the effects of the spill through a process known as Natural Resource Damage Assessment. A representative from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection serves as the trustee for Florida.
Santa Rosa County has submitted over 25 projects for consideration through this process. Examples of projects submitted include human use projects (i.e. coastal recreation), oyster restoration, habitat enhancement projects, living shoreline/breakwater projects, dune restoration, beach renourishment and aquatic resources. For more information regarding the NRDA process and to view a list of projects submitted by Santa Rosa County, please visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/nrda.htm.
Gulf Oil Spill Restoration
Separate funding will also be available for projects of Gulf-wide significance, and will be allocated according to a comprehensive plan developed by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Governor Scott represents Florida on the Council, and has asked the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to propose restoration projects to the council for inclusion in the comprehensive plan. Projects can be submitted online for consideration at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/projects_restore_act.htm
Submit Project Information
Please complete the fields below, you must complete one form per project. If you have multiple project suggestions, please complete all fields for a single project including clicking the submit button and then begin the process again for each additional project.
The information provided will be presented to the Santa Rosa Local RESTORE Council. The primary project contact will be notified prior to a meeting where the specific project is discussed.
If you have any questions or concerns about the process for submitting proposed project information, please contact:
Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners
Grants & Special Projects Coordinator
(850) 983-1848 email@example.com
6495 Caroline St. Suite H
Milton, FL 32570
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