With an approved Initial Funded Priorities List that invests $183 million in restoration projects, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will now begin to prioritize projects to receive funding from BP settlement funds.

USDA's Vilsack Becomes Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council's Chair

With an approved Initial Funded Priorities List that invests $183 million in restoration projects, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will now develop the next iteration of the Comprehensive Plan and begin to prioritize projects to receive funding from BP settlement funds.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is taking over the chair's position on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council this month from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker as the council works to build on progress made since its establishment in July 2012 in response to the Deepwater Horizon spill. With an approved Initial Funded Priorities List that invests $183 million in restoration projects, the council will now develop the next iteration of the Comprehensive Plan and begin to prioritize projects to receive funding from BP settlement funds, according to the Commerce Department announcement of the change.

"Over the past three years, the council has made significant progress toward restoring ecosystems, economies, and businesses in the region," Pritzker said. "I would like to thank Teresa Christopher and the Commerce team whose leadership and dedication have allowed us to build an organization from the ground up and position the council for future success. I am proud of our collective accomplishments during my tenure as the council's chairperson, and I look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Vilsack as he assumes this role. The administration remains committed to ensuring that the Gulf Coast comes back stronger and more vibrant than ever."

Vilsack said the his department "looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the states and other federal agencies on the Restore Council to restore the Gulf coast region and its magnificent natural resources for the benefit of the people who depend upon it and all Americans."

For more information about the Comprehensive Plan, the RESTORE Act, and the council, visit www.RestoreTheGulf.gov.

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