The states’ environmental agency has officially requested that tens of millions of dollars in local projects be funded by the Restore Act, a federal fund created after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced Tuesday it had sent a list of 26 projects to the U.S. Department of the Treasury as part of a final proposal for the first allocation of the funds.

The list includes $114.2 million in projects, although the commission said it was only eligible for about $85 million in funding right now.

The package “signifies an investment in projects that have the support of the public, as well as federal state and local elected officials,” TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker said.

The commission advertised and sought comment on proposed projects earlier this year.

Among the local projects included in the commission’s proposal is $9 million for continued beach construction at Babe’s Beach, which is in front of the Galveston Seawall west of 61st Street.

It also includes $1.5 million for the first phase of a proposed educational pavilion at the East End Lagoon, a natural habitat on the far eastern end of Seawall Boulevard.

Both of those projects were proposed by the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees.

“We’re very excited,” said Kelly de Schaun, the executive director of the park board. “We think this is big news for us.”

The park board rallied local support for the projects during the public comment period, de Schaun said. She was relieved to see the proposals made what is essentially a final cut.

The latest plan also calls for $7 million to remove unauthorized oil and gas well stubs in Galveston and Nueces counties; $417,000 to help develop a coastal tourism marketing and way-finding plan; $6.3 million for a nature trail on Bolivar Peninsula, and $6.6 million for repairs to Texas City’s hurricane levee.

The environmental commission stressed in its announcement that the plan still needed to be accepted by federal officials — who will check it for compliance with rules set out by the Restore Act.

The money from the act is supposed to go toward coastal areas where environmental and economic damage occurred because of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

The four-month spill, which occurred after a deadly explosion at an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana, released more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday’s announcement comes two weeks after six local projects were slated to be funded by a different portion of funds created in the aftermath of the massive oil spill.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

Senior Reporter

(3) comments

PD Hyatt

"The money from the act is supposed to go toward coastal areas where environmental and economic damage occurred because of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill."
With the above statement I fail to see how Galveston county would qualify for one nickel of that Horizon money....I would love for the paper to tell us all how Galveston county was affected by that accident. Funny how I don't seem to remember that we had oil washing up on our beaches or had any wildlife affected here in Galveston county....

johnferguson Staff
John Wayne Ferguson

Hey PD, that's something we've reported on before. While some Deepwater tar was found on Galveston beaches, but it definitely didn't cover the area the way it did in Louisiana.

The local argument about damages comes down to economic losses. BP might have challenged some of the claims, if the company had chosen to contest the lawsuit. But they dropped the legal fights when they made a settlement last year.

You can read about some of the local economic loss arguments in this article from 2015.

Anna Lopez

Gentlemen, there is a fundamental misunderstanding in your comments. The federal RESTORE Act was signed into law in 2012. The RESTORE Act establishes a regional approach to restore the long-term environmental health of the Gulf Coast region and to facilitate its economic development and is NOT directly correlated to damages in specific areas, but rather is envisioned to improve our Gulf coast region through the preservation of natural resources and their activation as economic resources. The funds are generated by the fines levied by the federal government against the companies responsible. The article you posted, John, is related to legal actions taken by the Park Board and other regional municipal governments that were adversely affected by the spill economically or physically. Those claims were made and validated by the court and settlements were awarded based on documentation submitted. Both funds, while stemming from the spill, have different underlying motives and aims. In other words, the settlement received and written about in the linked article were directly generated by damage, whereas the RESTORE grant award is a larger effort to improve (not repair) our ecosystems and utilizes funding made available from fines levied for non-compliance. That is why other projects to make the RESTORE list include flood levy repairs, removal of unauthorized oil and gas well stubs, tourism marketing and mobile wayfinding as well as groin construction and drainage projects.

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