Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
The Gulf of Mexico received an early gift during this holiday season with the release of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Early Restoration Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). While this acronym may sound highly technical, the PEIS is an important milestone for public engagement in the early restoration process after the BP oil disaster, and Ocean Conservancy applauds the NRDA Trustees for this achievement.
You can find the full document online here. It’s nearly 2,500 pages, but don’t worry; in the coming weeks, Ocean Conservancy will conduct a thorough review of the entire PEIS and the projects in it and share our findings with you.
So why is a PEIS so critical to restoring the Gulf?
It is required so that the Trustees can plan for restoration in a way that is comprehensive, integrated and long-term. After all, the Gulf’s environment is interconnected, and the damage from the oil disaster impacts a variety of species, habitats and human uses of the environment, such as fishing and boating. The NRDA Early Restoration PEIS will help focus complex restoration needs across the Gulf region to ensure restoration projects are effective and efficient.
It is important to point out that a PEIS is regional in scope and does not replace the need for environmental review for individual projects considered for early restoration funding.
Ocean Conservancy believes all of the following should be in the PEIS:
- A range of potential restoration projects to address the impacts to our natural resources or the services they provide.
- A summary of known or potential impacts to natural resources for better transparency and more effective public involvement in restoration.
- A commitment to long-term monitoring of restoration projects and impacts of the spill.
Finally, a balanced and comprehensive approach is critical, and we hope to see some great options for projects to address impacts in the marine environment, along with projects in the coastal area.
The Trustees will hold a series of public meetings around the five Gulf states to gather comments on the draft PEIS. We encourage everyone with an interest in the Gulf of Mexico to attend these meetings and contribute to the restoration of the Gulf.
To learn more about the PEIS and early restoration, download our fact sheet.