New report details plan for oil spill response to create resilient and strong coastal communities
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 24/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One Gulf, resilient Gulf, a new report released today by Oxfam America, the Gulf Coast Fund for Ecological Health and Community Renewal, the Gulf Restoration Network, and more than 100 endorsing Gulf Coast and national organizations working on the response to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, represents the broadest effort yet to create a detailed plan to restore the region devastated by the BP oil spill.
On the eve of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the expected release of Sec. Ray Mabus' Gulf Coast Recovery Plan, residents and advocates who have been responding to the disaster are calling for a recovery plan that addresses the core needs of those who have lived through both disasters and ensures that the status quo of degradation, inaction, and vulnerability will no longer be accepted.
"Gulf Coast citizens and community advocacy groups are more than just resilient, we are visionary," said Derrick Evans, adviser to the Gulf Coast Fund for Ecological Health and Community Renewal and founder of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives. "After the hurricanes of 2005 and 2008, and the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster, we heed President Obama's call to forge local experience and community wisdom into recommendations for the Administration's regional recovery plan. Representatives from diverse groups across the gulf coast have responded by developing and endorsing these recommendations for community-led economic, environmental and social recovery."
Aaron Viles, Campaign Director for the Gulf Restoration Network, said the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is the best time for the nation to commit to the Gulf Coast.
"On the five year anniversary of Katrina and the devastating 2005 hurricane season it's well past time for the nation to commit to a true restoration vision and plan for the central Gulf, long the nation's energy sacrifice zone," said Viles.
The report outlines key components for a successful recovery effort, including:
The development of new livelihood opportunities through long-term federal investments in ecosystem restoration, climate adaptation and clean, renewable energy to build more resilient coastal communities;
Ensuring that new jobs are decent jobs, avoiding "low-road" contracting practices and promoting sustainable jobs and working conditions;
Supporting community-based scalable transitional workforce and enterprise development programs with successful track records;
Ensuring any governance structure builds upon past planning and prioritizes community participation, accountability, transparency and streamlining of project implementation;
And adequate funding is provided through proposals including eliminating tax loop holes, and tax deductions for oil spillers and directing these revenues along with federal fines and liabilities related to the BP Horizon Disaster towards a Gulf Coast Community Resiliency Fund.
These and other steps outlined in the report will help the region recover from yet another disaster. One of the Gulf's greatest assets is the innovation and resourcefulness of its people. By far the most encouraging initiatives that arose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were driven by citizens and nonprofits across the Gulf Coast and were aimed at helping promote community renewal and recovery. Projects helping communities reimagine their future, create jobs, start new social enterprises and rebuild their homes, and led by community and faith-based nonprofits, gave a glimpse of the promise of what communities could do with proper resources.
"First with Katrina and now with the BP oil spill, the recovery of the Gulf Coast has depended far too much on the resiliency of individuals and families in the region," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. "Alongside community resolve to build back stronger, what is needed are appropriate private and public investments that reduce the vulnerability and create a roadmap to recovery. Communities are showing the way: it's time for others to make their contributions count."
Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that works to end poverty, hunger, and injustice. Working together with local partners in over 120 countries, Oxfam provides practical assistance to help people overcome poverty, respond to disasters, and secure their rights.