WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–August 16, 2010. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited Louisiana today to hear from local business owners and community members who have been directly affected by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. At an economic roundtable in Metairie, La., Locke announced $31.3 million in coastal restoration and economic development grants for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
“These grants are another sign of this administration’s commitment to help the Gulf Coast’s economy and environment recover in the wake of the BP oil spill,” Locke said.
A $30.7 million restoration grant, awarded to the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration by Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will fund the restoration of a critical barrier headland near Port Fourchon, La. The headland, which experiences some of the highest shoreline retreat rates in the nation, protects vital bay and wetland habitat and property from storm surge and erosion. Louisiana’s coastal habitat is the state’s first line of defense during storms, reducing the devastating effects of wind, waves, and flooding.
In addition, Locke announced a $600,000 effort by Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to fund the deployment of 21 Assessment and Evaluation teams to communities affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
The 21 teams are comprised of economic development practitioners, industry experts, and government officials that will conduct in-depth analyses of critical issues faced by the impacted communities, provide recommendations, and suggest potential solutions to issues of industry migration, workforce skills, small business needs, and infrastructure access and management. Two teams were deployed today to two counties in Florida. Two teams earlier were deployed in pilot assessments in two coastal Louisiana parishes.
Earlier in the day, Locke toured a Gulf seafood processing plant in Lafitte, and had lunch with members of the local seafood and restaurant industry at Drago’s in Metairie.
This was Locke’s third visit to Louisiana since June. Last month, Locke traveled to New Orleans to review the work being done by the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and discuss supporting the industry in areas impacted by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.
The funding for the NOAA restoration grant is provided as part of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), a state-federal partnership managed by the state of Louisiana, NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.