Federal, State Officials Release Plan To Protect Gulf Of Mexico

On March 28, environmental officials from the federal government and five Gulf Coast states unveiled a plan to strengthen environmental protection for the Gulf of Mexico and further the ongoing recovery and rebuilding effort after the devastating effects of the 2005 hurricane season.

The Governors' Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts provides a three-year framework for progress in the shared stewardship of the Gulf of Mexico by the American gulf states.

"Through our collaborative partnership, we are setting the example for the rest of the nation for regional stewardship and environmental management," said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille. "By sharing science, expertise and financial resources we can better protect the health of the Gulf of Mexico and secure a lasting underwater legacy for future generations."

Senior officials from several federal agencies including EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, joined Texas Governor Rick Perry, four governors from Mexico and agency leaders from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to unveil The Governors' Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts and discuss issues toward related to creating and maintaining a sustainable economy and environment.

"The action plan firmly establishes a practical framework and guide for meaningful and sustained progress in our shared economic and ecological stewardship of the Gulf of Mexico region," said White House Council of Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton.

The state-federal alliance outlines 11 actions to improve and protect water quality, restore coastal wetlands and estuarine ecosystems, reduce pollution and nutrient loading, identify Gulf habitats to support coastal management and expand environmental education. Outcomes to be accomplished over the next three years include:

  • Improving detection and forecasting of harmful algal blooms.
  • Improving beach water quality management.
  • Improving government efficiency in water quality monitoring.
  • Streamlining coastal restoration and conservation.
  • Creating and providing access to interactive habitat maps for priority Gulf of Mexico habitats.
  • Implementing nutrient reduction activities during Gulf recovery and rebuilding to restore key coastal watersheds impaired by nutrients.
  • Galvanizing local communities to protect the Gulf of Mexico through targeted education.

The Governor's Action Plan is the result of 12 months of collaboration between the Gulf States, a 13-agency Federal Workgroup, interested citizens and numerous other partners. The initiative includes projects designed to produce results in 36 months. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is part of a coordinated response to President George W. Bush's Ocean Action Plan, which called for the development of regional goals and priorities for safeguarding the nation's oceans.

The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest water body in the world, accounting for half the wetlands in the United States and teeming with sea life, ranging from killer whales to unexplored deepwater corals living thousands of feet below the surface. With some 3,400 miles of shoreline from Cape Sable, Fla., to the tip of the Yucatan peninsula, the gulf is bordered by Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas to the north, Mexico to the west and the island of Cuba to the southeast.

For more information, or to read the Governors' Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts, visit http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org.

For additional information on the area that the Gulf of Mexico covers, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Mexico.

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