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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, As Prepared


As prepared for delivery.

The events of April 20th and April 22nd quickly became a disaster that riveted Americans through the spring and summer of 2010. The BP well was a formidable enemy – the onslaught of oil was relentless and constant, taking lives, polluting the water, sediment and air, and requiring an unprecedented response.

That response, led by Admiral Thad Allen and the Coast Guard and joined by over 40,000 men and women – federal and private workers, state and local governments, citizens, tribes, health workers, religious groups and NGOs – proved to be a grueling battle, a war of endurance. The President pledged that we would win that battle and the well stands capped and silent today even as our response and scientific work continues unabated.

From the beginning of this disaster, President Obama pledged to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of the Gulf, to spare no resource in our nation's response.

Added to the President's resolve was the bravery and commitment of the people of the Gulf. That was and is the secret weapon in this fight. The people of the Gulf have once again proven their mettle, their resilience, and their fierce pride. I'm so proud to be a daughter of the Gulf.

In recognition of all that has happened but more importantly, all that is yet left undone, the President has charged me with leading a task force of federal and state officials who will now begin a national transition – from coastal response to coastal recovery.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force will start now to cut through red tape and align government efforts to deliver projects that address the long decline of our coast. State and local governments, the private sector, tribes, our scientists, and our citizens have great plans. They need government to help them make them their plans a reality.

I am grateful to the President and the people of the Gulf for the chance to serve the region I call home. But this opportunity is something very special for me – combining my life's passion, a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren, with the opportunity to give something back to the region that shaped and nurtured me.

The people of the Gulf know that a strong and vibrant ecosystem is the key to our future. Our economy, our health, and our culture live and die with this coastline.

The President knows this. And with him, the entire country knows it too. Because the President hears you and listens, and yes, the country hears you. Now it is our turn to forge a partnership that brings the resources of this great country to aid in the revitalization of one of its great treasures, the Gulf Coast. The task force I lead will be a true partnership. It is an opportunity to align federal resources and policy to turn plans into actions.

It will work to keep our nation's focus on the Gulf while Congress moves to finally enact legislation to give the Gulf Coast what it so richly deserves – national attention, national resources, and a Gulf Coast Recovery Council.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force will prove that the whole region is greater than the sum of its parts. Partnership and a regional effort can lead to strength in Washington and in our elected bodies.

The Task Force will take its place alongside advocates for our other great water bodies, such as the Great Lakes Commission, the Puget Sound Commission, the Chesapeake Bay Council and the Oceans Council. It is the Gulf's turn. Never before has there been such a moment for the Gulf's ecosystems and her people. America needs the Gulf. These are America's Wetlands, America's island, America's beaches. And the People of the Gulf need our neighbors.

President Obama has promised never to forget the Gulf. That is America's promise. And that is my promise to the place that I will always consider home. Thank you.