The panel in charge of overseeing restoration plans for the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident has released its plan for how to spend the billions of dollars it expects to receive from civil fines.

The plan sets overarching goals for restoring and protecting natural environments and the regional economy. Although it does not include a list of priority projects and programs, the plan spells out the principles that will be used to make those decisions.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, the federal-state advisory group established by the RESTORE Act, will oversee the allocation of 60 percent of the civil fines collected by the federal government. Half of those funds will be used on projects that represent “the best available science.” The other half of the money will be allocated to the Gulf States based on the impacts of the oil spill, subject to Council approval.

After receiving 41,000 public comments, the Council made some changes to the document. One is the incorporation of plans to “consider the most effective means of ensuring that its decisions are based on the best available science.” Options include creating a science advisory committee or hiring a chief scientist.


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