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Dredging and Coastal Businesses Urge States to 
Participate in RESTORE

On February 26, Jeffrey Buchanan, Senior Domestic Policy Advisor for Oxfam America, reported an action by dredging and other companies who work on the Gulf Coast to encourage the five Gulf states to participate in the federal RESTORE act. The news release is as follows.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council has the power to direct unprecedented resources from the RESTORE Act, a bill passed Congress in June 2012 to direct civil fines from BP and the responsible parties in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, into restoring the Gulf Coast ecosystem.

The Council consists of governors the five Gulf States – Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas – and members of the Obama Administration,

As the trial begins to determine the amount of BP’s civil fines and the Gulf Coast Council meets, leaders from some of the country’s top dredging companies and other coastal business associations came together to support building strong connections between environmental restoration and economic renewal.

Most recently, more than 120 businesses with combined revenue in excess of $20 billion annually have signed a testimonial letter supporting the use of RESTORE Act funds for large-scale environmental restoration that will create jobs, strengthen Gulf community resilience, and contribute to long-term economic renewal to Governors Robert Bentley, Rick Scott, Bobby Jindal, Phil Bryant and Rick Perry, respectively.

The letter included dredging firms and industry associations who urged the states to also invest RESTORE Act funds in worker training initiatives, which would bring together industry, communities and government to connect local, low income and disadvantaged workers to the new jobs created in constructing, designing and administering ecosystem restoration projects.

The eventual allocation of funding related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response can enable the people of the Gulf of Mexico to simultaneously restore the health and resilience of their environments, their economies and their communities. As local, state and federal governments plan for restoration of the Gulf Coast, new opportunities will arise for economic growth.

Right now, there is a remarkable opportunity to restore the Gulf, to strengthen its traditional industries, spur innovation, accelerate emerging environmental restoration markets, and promote new prosperity. These new markets translate into on-the-ground jobs for workers in the region and provide new opportunities for economic mobility and above average wages. A recent economic study by Mather Economics estimates that fines to be paid for the 2010 oil spill could create up to 57,697 new jobs in restoration projects in the next 10 years alone.

Oxfam America and The Nature Conservancy delivered the letters to the five Gulf state governors and members of the Gulf Coast Council on February 19. Several individuals included personal statements.

Ashley Kerns, vice president of Mike Hooks, Inc. said, “Through the years our company has seen how investing in the environment can mean jobs for workers and economic growth for local communities. The industry is excited to work with the Gulf States and the Gulf Coast Council to execute projects and help create new career opportunities for Gulf Coast workers, jobs that in many cases, for those willing to work hard and stay with it, can provide working families with good wages and a shot at economic mobility.”

Thomas B. Matthews, secretary-treasurer of Matthews Brothers, Inc. said, “These restoration projects create a demand for work from a wide variety of companies in the engineering, construction, transportation and manufacturing sectors. As one of the first firms to win a contract on a post-BP spill environmental restoration project in Mississippi, I have witnessed firsthand that investments in coastal restoration can mean jobs for coastal workers and economic growth for local businesses and communities.”

Of the 120 signatories, the following were closely related to the dredging industry: Harry Simmons, president, American Beach and Shore Protection Association; Hugo E. Bermudez, principal engineer, Coast & Harbor Engineering; R. Steve Dial, president, Dial Cordy and Associates; Barry Holliday, executive director, Dredging Contractors of America; Doug Heatwole, manager, Gulf Coast Region, Ecology & Environment, Inc.; Peter Bowe, president, Ellicott Dredges, LLC; Bill Hanson, vice president Business Development, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock;
Dayle Pyatt, president and CEO, Jay Cashman, Inc.; Tom Matthews, secretary/treasurer, Matthews Brothers, Inc.; Ashley M. Kerns, vice president, Mike Hooks, LLC; Michael Dombrowski, principal engineer, MRD Associates, LLC; J. Michael Pearson, president & CEO, Orion Marine Group; and Steve Brundrett, safety director, Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Co.

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