Private sector leaders engaging in restoring Gulf Coast and generating jobsSeptember 14th, 2012 | by Irit Tamir
When Hurricane Isaac took another punch at the Gulf Coast in late August, it exposed yet again how imperative it is to invest in restoring the region’s battered environment and the economy. Oxfam America has been engaging leaders in the private sector in planning how to make best use of the billions of dollars coming to the region as a result of the RESTORE the Gulf States Act. The Act will send 80% of Clean Water Act fines back to the Gulf—from $5 to $21 billion.
This past Tuesday, Oxfam America and The Nature Conservancy were joined in Washington, DC by Atkins, a global engineering firm, and Calvert Investments for meetings with several federal agencies that will be implementing the Act.
Why would an engineering company like Atkins and an investment firm like Calvert be interested in how monies on the Gulf get spent?
As an investor in companies in the Gulf, Calvert wants to be sure that their holdings are not at risk as a result of climate hazards. As Rebecca Henson, Calvert’s Senior Sustainability Analyst told staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency, “Calvert Investments wants to support the companies in which it has holdings in their determination to be more resilient when faced with the next storm. These funds have the potential to decrease the region’s vulnerability and increase its resiliency by restoring the coastline and creating real economic development.”
Atkins Senior Vice President Doug Robison told staffers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that “coastal restoration projects have the opportunity to wrap together both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum as it relates to jobs. It will put to work scientists and engineers together with construction and monitoring crews. This is a growing industry sector and a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in the Gulf economically and environmentally.”
This week President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council which is mandated by the RESTORE Act to create a comprehensive restoration plan. That plan has the potential to protect the precarious coastal communities that have been victim to one storm after another through ecosystem restoration. But it also has the potential to revitalize the Gulf’s economy by working with the Gulf States to ready a local workforce to take on the jobs created through projects the Council will administer. Let’s hope they don’t pass on this opportunity.