Leaders Press National Agenda to Save America’s Energy Coast

WASHINGTON- Through an unprecedented collaboration, government, industry and environmental leaders announced a national agenda to save America’s Energy Coast -- including eliminating conflicting federal regulations and spending on restoration infrastructure -- at a Policy Forum in Washington, DC today.

The group adopted an Action Framework, which outlines immediate steps that must be taken to address major energy and environmental sustainability challenges in the Gulf Coast region that produces 90 percent of our domestic offshore oil and gas.

The diverse group includes members such as: H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Washington, Mark Hurley, president of Shell Pipeline in Houston, Don Young, executive vice president of Ducks Unlimited based in Memphis, Sandra Fury, Manager, Chevron Gulf of Mexico Business Unit based in Houston, R. King Milling, chairman of the America’s WETLAND Foundation of New Orleans, and Becky Carter, regional director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy in Atlanta.

“It is abundantly clear that any debate concerning our nation’s energy security makes no sense whatsoever unless it includes the experienced voices from the very region that has born the responsibility and the burden of supplying the nation with a majority of its domestic offshore energy supply over decades,” said Milling.

With the warning that the most urgent threat to our nation’s energy security is the Gulf’s rapidly eroding coastline, the AEC’s first action framework calls for several major policy reforms and initiatives including:

- The identification and resolution of inconsistencies and conflicts in Federal policies that hinder sustainable energy development, ecosystem restoration and conservation efforts; and

- National investments to sustain engineered and environmental infrastructure in the region that utilize both natural and man-made resources.

“Conflicting policies between federal agencies have evolved over many years as our values have changed,” said H. Dale Hall, Director of U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service. “Its no one’s fault, but these inconsistencies have had unintended consequences, and we must remedy them. The worst thing that could happen is for us to have the ability - financially and technically - to develop energy and address coastal restoration only to have policies that get in the way of progress. That would be atrocious - that’s why we are finding new ways to move forward.”

“For those of us that have a national and international presence, we have an obligation to raise awareness about what’s happening to the Gulf Coast,” said Don Young, Executive Vice President of Ducks Unlimited. “Ultimately the scope of the problem is so immense, that it cannot be resolved without a sustained national commitment. The cost of those investments is miniscule compared to the price we will pay later if we fail to act now.”

Because Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama collectively provide nearly 90 percent of our domestic offshore energy supply, 30 percent of the nation's total oil and gas supply, and 50 percent of our refining capacity, ongoing damage to the region could have a significant economic and environmental impact that will felt by all Americans.

“The Gulf region - America’s Energy Coast - is critically important to our nation’s current and future energy security,” said Mark Hurley, president of Shell Pipeline. “That’s why we’re working together through this initiative to set a new tone for the national discussion and develop balanced solutions for economic and environmental sustainability.”

The event was hosted by the Comparative Urban Studies Project and the Global Energy Initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"The Gulf coast represents ground zero for some of the challenging sustainability issues we will face in the next decade, said Allison Garland, Program Associate, Comparative Urban Studies Project. "The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is pleased to be partnering with America's Energy Coast as they carry out their urgent Action Framework."

In addition to the abovementioned action items, the framework also calls for reforms and initiatives to:

- Develop resilient strategies, capacity, and intellectual capital for communities in vulnerable coastal landscapes that are critical to domestic energy production;

- Secure domestic energy for consumers through continued exploration, development, production, transportation and refining of conventional resources; develop and deliver alternative energy sources; and promote energy conservation;

- Make conservation and restoration of marine and wildlife habitat a national imperative; and

- Develop opportunities for climate stewardship.

The complete AEC Action Framework and the draft white paper on Federal policy conflicts and obstacles to coastal restoration, which was prepared by the Division of Habitat and Resource Conservation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are available online at www.americasenergycoast.org.

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