The Gulf Coast Restoration Council is charged with figuring out how best to spend an $800 million settlement from drilling company Transocean Deepwater, the amount paid out for its part in the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. Last month, the Council released a list of proposed conservation projects totaling $140 million, and this week officials gathered local entrepreneurs and businesspeople in New Orleans to give them more details on how the money will be spent — and to ask for help.
“We need your help getting this right,” said Justin Ehrenwerth, executive director of the Council, according to New Orleans Public Radio. “We have a massive opportunity in front of us and we don’t know the best way to do this for the entire Gulf of Mexico. No one state knows it. The federal government doesn’t know it. We have great ideas, but we don’t have the final answer.”
According to the radio station, they hope to work with locals on solutions and to contract with local companies to do the required restoration work. The meeting took place at business incubator Propeller.
Karim Belhadjali, deputy chief of planning for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, told the gathered crowd, “I recognize that there is a lot of innovation going on and … what I’m looking for is some inspiration from groups like this who have the ability to step outside of the discipline, step outside of their comfort zones, and really start thinking through the solution to that big red map.”
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.