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Trustees release oil spill damage assessment

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST — The Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) trustees have released the Deepwater Horizon Draft Phase I Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Assessment (DERP/EA) for formal public comment.

It is the first in an anticipated series of plans to begin restoration of the Gulf of Mexico to compensate for natural resource injuries, including the loss of human use of Gulf resources, from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

The DERP/EA describes the initial projects proposed to receive funding from the $1 billion Early Restoration agreement announced by the trustees and BP April 21 called the Framework Agreement.

The trustees will hold 12 public meetings in January and February 2012 throughout Gulf Coast communities and in Washington, D.C., to solicit formal public comment on the DERP/EA.

Cooper Shattuck, chair of the Trustee Council Executive Committee, speaking on behalf of the trustees, said, “This is the first step in beginning restoration of injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. While continuing to accept project ideas, we will move forward with additional phases of Early Restoration until the entire $1 billion is committed to Gulf Coast restoration.”

The DERP/EA describes eight proposed projects for the initial round of

Early Restoration, two each in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. These projects reflect the ideas and input received by the trustees through project solicitation and outreach efforts. The proposed projects include shoreline marsh creation, coastal dune habitat restoration, nearshore artificial reef creation, oyster cultch restoration and construction of boat ramp facilities.

The total estimated cost of the proposed initial suite of projects is more than $57 million.

The Mississippi projects included in the Deepwater Horizon DERP/EA are:

• Mississippi Oyster Cultch Restoration — Hancock and Harrison counties; 1,430 acres of cultch restoration; benefitting oysters in Mississippi Sound; estimated cost: $11 million.

• Mississippi Artificial Reef Habitat. Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties; 100 acres of nearshore artificial reef; benefitting nearshore habitat; estimated cost: $2.6 million.

Visit www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov to view the DERP/EA, access public meeting details, and view additional details of the proposed Early Restoration projects and ways to submit public comment.

The public comment period will end Feb. 14, 2012.

The public meetings in Mississippi are scheduled for Jan. 17-19.

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