Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday October 22nd 2014

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The Report Before the Report


Following a year of public input, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force has issued a preliminary report and a call for further public input.

The task force was charged with returning a report to President Barack Obama one year after its formation — or, Oct. 5, 2011. The group was formed to assess the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and draw up a roadmap toward recovery.

In its preliminary report, the task force has laid out specific areas of concern. Going forward, it suggests focusing on restoring and conserving habitat, restoring water quality, protecting marine resources and strengthening communities.

“I’m a little disappointed,” said Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson, as he began skimming through the preliminary report Wednesday.

The Commissioner explained that he found the report a bit too Louisiana-centric. While he acknowledged that the state did see substantial impact, he also holds it accountable as the source of the spill.

“At the end of the day this stuff came from Louisiana. I mean, it didn’t come from Florida,” Robinson said, describing the state as a “tremendous liability” to its neighbors. “We have this gun to our head and we have no say about what happens. It all happens in Louisiana, it’s all based in Louisiana.”

The copy of the report Robinson thumbed through had the word ‘preliminary’ printed across each page. But the Commissioner does’t expect too many changes in the three weeks between now and the final report’s release.

“I seriously doubt that the final is going to be that much different than the preliminary,” he said. “I think what this three weeks is, is oh-we-gave-the-public-a-chance-to-review-it.”

The task force, through a written statement, maintained that the extension was necessary in order to get further public input.
“That is why,” the statement read, “before the strategy is finalized, we wanted to give the public a chance to see if we got it right by providing an opportunity for review and feedback.”

A final report is due in November or December.