What is the RESTORE Act and what does it do?
The RESTORE Act dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties paid to the United States by responsible parties after July 6, 2012 in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Region for ecological and economic recovery efforts. The money is set aside in a Trust Fund overseen by the Treasury Department. Projects and programs funded through the RESTORE Act will generate investments in economic development, tourism promotion, and science-based natural resource restoration in the states impacted by the spill -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
How will the money be spent?
The RESTORE Act divides the funds into five buckets and sets parameters for how these funds will be spent: • 35% of the funds are divided equally among the five Gulf Coast states for ecological and economic restoration. Eligible activities include: restoration and protection of natural resources; mitigation of damage to natural resources; workforce development and job creation; improvements to state parks; infrastructure projects, including ports; coastal flood protection; and promotion of tourism and Gulf seafood. • 30% of the funds will be administered for restoration and protection according to the Comprehensive Plan developed by the Council. • 30% of the funds are dedicated to the Gulf Coast states based on a formula. This formula will be based on the number of miles of shoreline that experienced oiling, the distance from the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling unit at the time of the explosion, and the average population as of the 2010 Census. Each state is required to have a Council approved plan in place for use of these funds. • 2.5% of the funds are dedicated to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will establish a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration, Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program for marine and estuarine research, ecosystem monitoring and ocean observation, data collection and stock assessments, and cooperative research. • 2.5% of the funds are dedicated to the Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program. The Centers of Excellence Research Grants funding is distributed through the States to nongovernmental entities to establish centers of excellence that will focus on the following disciplines: coastal and deltaic sustainability; restoration and protection; fisheries and wildlife ecosystem research and monitoring; offshore energy development; sustainable and resilient growth; and comprehensive observation, monitoring and mapping in the Gulf.
Who oversees the RESTORE Act?
The Direct Component (Bucket 1) and the Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program are overseen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The Council-Selected Restoration Component (Bucket 2) and the Spill Impact Component (Bucket 3) are overseen by the RESTORE Council. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversees the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science Program (Bucket 4).
Who will be responsible for oversight to ensure that funds are used correctly?
As directed by the law, the U.S. Department of the Treasury developed regulations for the administration and oversight of RESTORE Act funding. These regulations include Trust Fund expenditure processes and financial tracking requirements.
What is the RESTORE Council?
The RESTORE Act established a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the Council), which is comprised of members from the five affected Gulf States’ Governors, the Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security as well as the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What does the RESTORE Council do?
The Council will work with States, local communities, Tribes, and non-Federal interests to help restore the ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region by developing and overseeing implementation of a Comprehensive Plan and carrying out other related responsibilities.
What is the Initial Comprehensive Plan?
The Initial Comprehensive Plan provides a framework to implement a coordinated Gulf Coast region-wide restoration effort in a way that restores, protects, and revitalizes the Gulf Coast. The Plan (1) establishes overarching restoration goals for the Gulf Region; (2) incorporates recommendations and findings of the Strategy; (3) describes how projects and programs under the Council-selected Restoration Component will be solicited, evaluated, and funded; (4) outlines the process for the development, review, and approval of State Expenditure Plans; (5) includes a list of any project or program authorized prior to enactment of the RESTORE Act, but not yet commenced; and (6) provides the Council’s next steps. Over the next few years, development and implementation of this Plan will be iterative and will lead to a comprehensive, region-wide, multi-objective restoration plan based on the best available science. Learn more about the Initial Comprehensive Plan
How can I get my project/program funded?
In order to be considered for funding, all projects must be submitted into the Restoration Project Idea Portal. Review, edit, or submit project ideas in the Project Portal
Will there be an opportunity to comment on the projects and programs selected to receive RESTORE Act funding?
Yes, every RESTORE Act component has specific regulations regarding public comment periods. Public comment periods are announced and comments can be submitted via email or regular mail.
What is the State Expenditure Plan?
The State Expenditure Plan (SEP) is a requirement under the Spill Impact Component (Bucket 3). Each Gulf Coast state will develop a SEP describing how it will disburse the amounts allocated under the Spill Impact Component. The SEP is submitted to the RESTORE Council. These project, programs, and activities will be implemented in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of the RESTORE Act as well as the Goals and Objectives of the Comprehensive Plan.
What is the Multiyear Implementation Plan?
The Multiyear Implementation Plan (MIP) is a requirement under the Direct Component (Bucket 1). The RESTORE Act and Treasury’s regulations require the state of Mississippi to prepare multiyear plans that prioritize eligible activities for Direct Component funds. Treasury reviews MIPs for completeness and compliance with the RESTORE Act and Treasury’s regulations.
How will the interest generated by the Trust Fund be used?
The RESTORE Act provides for the ways that the interest from the Trust Fund must be used to augment the funds in the Gulf. Under the law, fifty percent of the interest will be utilized by the Council and the remaining fifty percent will be divided evenly between the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program and the Center of Excellence program.
Is there an end date on the RESTORE Act? Is there a time by when all funds need to be expended?
The RESTORE Council will terminate once all the funds in the Trust Fund have been spent. There is no deadline for when the funds must be spent.
How does the RESTORE Council decision-making process work?
Council decisions on significant actions require affirmative votes by the Chairperson and a majority of the five States.
What is the difference between the Council and the Natural Resources Damage Trustees and the Assessment and restoration process it supervises?
The funds from the RESTORE Act and funding from the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) and restoration process can both be used for recovery of the Gulf Coast, but the efforts are distinct and separate and the eligible uses are different under each funding source. To the extent possible, the NRDA trustees and the RESTORE Council will endeavor to coordinate and capitalize on efficiencies to maximize the restoration of the natural resources and the economies that depend on them. Under the Oil Pollution Act, the responsible parties pay to restore natural resources damaged by the oil spill as well as the value of the lost use of those resources. The legal process of identifying and quantifying natural resource damages is called a natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). NRDA funds can be used to assess the damage, and to restore and compensate for natural resources damaged by the oil spill. Responsible parties for an oil spill may be separately liable under the CWA for civil and criminal penalties for conduct that caused the oil discharges that pollute U.S. waters. Under the CWA, liable parties may be required to pay penalties that, in the absence of RESTORE, would go to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. RESTORE redirects eighty percent of CWA administrative and civil penalties to Gulf restoration. Unlike NRDA funds, some of the RESTORE Act funds can be used for both ecosystem restoration projects and economic recovery of the Gulf Coast and the projects do not need to be directly tied to impacts from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
How will the RESTORE Council and the U.S. Department of the Treasury evaluate projects?
The Council staff will make sure each Council Member’s proposal is complete and that it describes each project or program, including the scope and funding necessary for each project or program included in the proposal. Once this initial review is completed, the Council will evaluate the projects and programs using the evaluation criteria and any supplemental criteria. Treasury will review eligible applicants MIPs and Center of Excellence applications for completeness and conformity with the RESTORE Act and Treasury regulations. Treasury may need to request additional information to complete the review. After completing its review, Treasury notifies an applicant in writing that the applicant may begin to submit grant applications.