Coastal restoration in Mississippi is a long-term sustainable endeavor that will yield fruitful economic and ecological benefits to the Gulf Coast, the rest of the state of Mississippi, and have far reaching implications throughout the United States. In light of the disaster that was the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has been named the State’s Trustee to ensure that the appropriate funds are brought to Mississippi to “Make Mississippi Whole” as a result of the damage sustained. Covington assists MDEQ in program and project management and oversight for all activities related to coastal restoration. These activities can be split into three categories:
1. The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast (RESTORE)
RESTORE is a multi-faceted piece of legislation that has funding available to the Gulf States for multiple eligible activities across a diverse range of goals. Covington provides guidance to MDEQ to understand the intricacies of the Act, requirements that need to be fulfilled for meeting treasury regulations, and providing support and program development for projects, programs, and activities that the State of Mississippi submits towards RESTORE. Covington has tremendous insight and knowledge to workings of RESTORE and the RESTORE Council as the Chief Scientific Officer of the company was the science coordinator for the RESTORE Council.
2. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) – Gulf Environment Benefit Fund
The GEBF administered through NFWF is the $2.54 billion criminal settlement of BP. With respect to the GEBF in Mississippi, NFWF has provided $356 million, plus interest, towards coastal restoration that support projects that remedy harm to natural resources – habitat and species – of a type that were impacted by the oil spill. Covington provides science support towards project development, ensures that projects are created that meet the plea agreement language, and provides overall program management and oversight in implementation.
3. The Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) from the Oil Pollution Act
The State of Mississippi is a trustee that is responsible for studying and understanding the effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill through a process called the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (or NRDA). Covington coordinates and supports MDEQ in the NRDA process, but also assists MDEQ with scientific activities that are necessary for assessment, and provides program management, administration, and oversight on early restoration projects, and provides technical guidance for case creation.