Executive Order 13626
of September 10, 2012
Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 311 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) (33 U.S.C. 1321), section 1006 of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2706), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Policy. Executive Order 13554 of October 5, 2010, was issued after the blowout and explosion of the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon that occurred on April 20, 2010, and resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history (Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill). Executive Order 13554 recognized the Gulf Coast as a national treasure and addressed the longstanding ecological decline of that region, which was compounded by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In doing so, Executive Order 13554 established a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (Task Force) to coordinate intergovernmental efforts, planning, and the exchange of information in order to better implement Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration and facilitate appropriate accountability and support throughout the restoration process.
Since the implementation of Executive Order 13554, the Federal Government's Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration planning efforts have advanced significantly. The Task Force's Gulf of Mexico Regional Ecosystem Restoration Strategy (Strategy), created with input from Federal, State, tribal, and local governments, and thousands of involved citizens and organizations across the region, serves as a comprehensive restoration plan for addressing ecological concerns in the Gulf of Mexico. In light of the release of the Strategy, the ongoing work of the Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council (Trustee Council) under the Oil Pollution Act, and the recent passage of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) (title I, subtitle F of Public Law 112-141), this order affirms the Federal Government's Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration efforts and realigns responsibilities to ensure the most effective governmental planning and coordination to reach these goals.
Termination of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The progress of the Task Force is noteworthy. It has completed the Strategy and the preliminary planning and coordination tasks that it was intended to produce and has significantly advanced important ecosystem restoration goals for the Gulf of Mexico. In light of the recent creation, described below, of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Gulf Restoration Council), which will build upon the Task Force's already successful collaboration between Federal, State, and tribal governments and, as directed by statute, include and incorporate in its proposed comprehensive plan the findings and information prepared by the Task Force, the Task Force shall terminate no later than 60 days after the Gulf Restoration Council commences its work. The functions of the Task Force will be performed by the Gulf Restoration Council and the Trustee Council to the extent practicable, as set forth in this order. Prior to its termination, the Task Force will provide such assistance as is appropriate to the Gulf Restoration Council.
The Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
(a) Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. The RESTORE Act, which was signed into law as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Public Law 112-141), established a mechanism for providing funding to the Gulf region to restore ecosystems and rebuild local economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The RESTORE Act established in the Treasury of the United States the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund (Trust Fund), consisting of 80 percent of an amount equal to any administrative and civil penalties paid after the date of the RESTORE Act by the responsible parties in connection with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to the United States pursuant to a court order, negotiated settlement, or other instrument in accordance with section 311 of the FWPCA (33 U.S.C. 1321).
(b) Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. The RESTORE Act established the Gulf Restoration Council, an independent entity charged with developing a comprehensive plan for ecosystem restoration in the Gulf Coast (Comprehensive Plan), as well as any future revisions to the Comprehensive Plan. Among its other duties, the Gulf Restoration Council is tasked with identifying projects and programs aimed at restoring and protecting the natural resources and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast region, to be funded from a portion of the Trust Fund; establishing such other advisory committees as may be necessary to assist the Gulf Restoration Council, including a scientific advisory committee and a committee to advise the Gulf Restoration Council on public policy issues; gathering information relevant to Gulf Coast restoration, including through research, modeling, and monitoring; and providing an annual report to the Congress on implementation progress. Consistent with the RESTORE Act, the Comprehensive Plan developed by the Gulf Restoration Council will include provisions necessary to fully incorporate the Strategy, projects, and programs recommended by the Task Force.
(c) Federal members of the Gulf Restoration Council and Trustee Council, as well as all Federal entities involved in Gulf Coast restoration, shall work closely with one another to advance their common goals, reduce duplication, and maximize consistency among their efforts. All Federal members are directed to consult with each other and with all non-federal members in carrying out their duties on the Gulf Restoration Council.
Ongoing Role of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council. (a) Executive Order 13554 recognized the role of the Trustee Council, and designated trustees as provided in 33 U.S.C. 2706, with trusteeship over natural resources injured, lost, or destroyed as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Specifically, Executive Order 13554 recognized the importance of carefully coordinating the work of the Task Force with the Trustee Council, whose members have statutory responsibility to assess natural resources damages from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, to restore trust resources, and seek compensation for lost use of those trust resources. Section 3(b) of Executive Order 13554 instructed the Task Force to “support the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process by referring potential ecosystem restoration actions to the * * * Trustee Council for consideration and facilitating coordination among the relevant departments, agencies, and offices, as appropriate, subject to the independent statutory responsibilities of the trustees.” The Department of Commerce (through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the Department of the Interior (through the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service), and the Department of Justice have worked to identify linkages and opportunities for the Task Force to complement the restoration progress of the Trustee Council.
(b) Section 7(e) of Executive Order 13554 provides that nothing in that order shall interfere with the statutory responsibilities and authority of the Trustee Council or the individual trustees to carry out their statutory responsibilities to assess natural resource damages and implement restoration actions under 33 U.S.C. 2706 and other applicable law. Agencies that were members of the Task Force shall continue to comply with these requirements.
Designating Trustees for Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Given their authorities, programs, and expertise, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) have institutional capacities that can contribute significantly to the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and restoration efforts, including scientific and policy expertise as well as experience gained in the Task Force process and other planning efforts in the Gulf area. In addition, EPA's and USDA's relevant authorities cover a range of natural resources and their supporting ecosystems, including waters, sediments, barrier islands, wetlands, soils, land management, air resources, and drinking water supplies. The inclusion of EPA and USDA as trustees participating in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and restoration efforts will maximize coordination across the Federal Government and enhance overall efficiencies regarding Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration. Accordingly, without limiting the designations in Executive Order 12777 of October 18, 1991, or any other existing designations, and pursuant to section 2706(b)(2) of title 33, United States Code, I hereby designate the Administrator of EPA and the Secretary of Agriculture as additional trustees for Natural Resource Damage Assessment and restoration solely in connection with injury to, destruction of, loss of, or loss of use of natural resources, including their supporting ecosystems, resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The addition of these Federal trustees does not, in and of itself, alter any existing agreements among or between the trustees and any other entity. All Federal trustees are directed to consult, coordinate, and cooperate with each other in carrying out all of their trustee duties and responsibilities.
The Administrator of EPA is hereby directed to revise Subpart G of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan to reflect the designations for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill discussed in this section.
General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Trustee Council, or those of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(d) Executive Order 13554 of October 5, 2010, is hereby revoked concurrent with the termination of the Task Force under the terms described in section 2 of this order.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
Washington, September 10, 2012.
Filed 9-12-12; 11:15 am]
[FR Doc. 2012-22807
Billing code 3295-F2-P