GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulf Coast and the people affected by the oil spill could soon see some relief. At the request of President Obama, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has developed a long term Gulf Coast Restoration plan. It provides the states affected by the oil spill with a comprehensive outline of immediate post spill needs, as well as a proposal for federal assistance in the recovery of the region.
Secretary Mabus was at Ken Combs Pier in Gulfport Tuesday to make the announcement about his new plan, which makes a transition from response to recovery.
"This is where the damage occurred. This is where people were hurt," Mabus said.
Parties responsible for the devastation will be fined for the cost it takes to remove the oil. That money goes to the Clean Water Act. Part of Mabus' plan is to ask Congress to change that act and allow some of the money to come here.
"It only makes sense that the people that took the risk, the people who took the damage, the people who were hurt and the area of the country that was hurt should be the recipient of a substantial portion of the penalty money," said Mabus.
After many trips to the Gulf Coast, Mabus has absorbed the ideas and complaints by many fisherman, oil impacted businesses and environmentalists. He said another part of his plan includes establishing a council that will oversee the planned recovery projects.
"The recommendation is that this Gulf Coast recovery council that we're urging Congress to establish will take a coast wide look and will make decisions based on science and based on the things that need to be done to restore the coast."
Mabus said throughout response efforts, people of the coast repeatedly said they wanted to be involved in the decision making process. Mabus wants that involvement to continue into recovery.
"There needs to be a mechanism, a way for local groups, local individuals, local non-profits to have access to this process," said Mabus.
This outline Mabus said he has created will not resolve every problem, but it will serve as building blocks for a better future.
"I think that we've tried to meet the big concerns that the coast had and we urge Congress to act on it very quickly so we can begin to get going on this larger effort," said Mabus.
Once the plan is approved, recovery efforts will begin. Mabus said hopefully that will be before the start of the new year.