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Florida DEP Announces $10 Million For...

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Florida DEP Announces $10 Million For Environmental Recovery
TALLAHASSEE -The State of Florida will receive $10 million in the form of land acquisitions and stormwater management projects under a June 18 Consent Decree between MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Governor Scott said, "This $10 million investment is great news for families along the panhandle. These funds will support jobs at Eglin Air Force Base by providing base leaders with more buffer zone land - and millions will go into clean water projects, so Florida continues its progress in protecting and restoring our state's natural waterbodies."

"I am proud that this recovery maximizes the environmental benefits to Florida after the oil spill. MOEX Offshore did the right thing by stepping forward and providing money to protect the Gulf," said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will oversee the expenditure of $5 million on stormwater retrofit projects. These projects will take place in different locations throughout Bay, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties. The other $5 million is being utilized by The Trust for Public Land to acquire conservation easements and/or fee simple title to environmentally sensitive lands around the Panhandle, including Escribano Point. Escribano Point will be managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Florida Attorney General's office played an instrumental role in securing this relief, consistent with its role in representing the Department of Environmental Protection on oil spill related matters.

"We are thrilled this money will be used to purchase environmentally sensitive lands and implement stormwater retrofit projects in the Panhandle. These types of projects provide many environmental benefits, ranging from improved water quality to restoring inland habitats," said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. "The land acquisition projects are beneficial to both our local base communities and Florida's fragile wildlife habitats and ecosystems."

Urban stormwater runoff and nonpoint source pollution present the most significant continuing source of water and sediment quality degradation in the affected areas of the Panhandle, whose coastal waters received oiling after the Deepwater Horizon spill. Stormwater retrofits projects play a key role in protecting waterways by protecting water quality and managing flows.

The acquisition of Escribano Point will provide an additional five miles of protected shoreline along Blackwater Bay and East Bay, thereby contributing towards the water quality flowing into Pensacola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and providing a buffer to local bases. The Yellow River Marsh Aquatic Preserve located in Blackwater Bay will also benefit by additional protection of surface water runoff helping to protect some of the last remaining grassbeds and oyster bars found in the Pensacola Bay System.

"The Trust for Public Land is proud to have partnered with the Governor's office and the Department to facilitate the first Deepwater Horizon land acquisition mitigation project within Florida," said Chris Kay, Chief Operating Officer for The Trust for Public Land. "Escribano Point has been a top priority project for the State for many years and the protection of this property is a key safeguard for the Gulf's ecosystem."

MOEX Offshore was a 10 percent non-operating investor in the lease on the Macondo well at the time of the Deepwater Horizon spill and is the first entity to resolve civil penalty claims. This recovery does not affect any outstanding claims the State may have against any other responsible party, including BP.

For information directly related to Florida's response and restoration activities relating to the Deepwater Horizon spill visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/...horizon/default.htm.

About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state's principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida's environment and natural resources. The Department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida's air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. To view the Department's website log on to www.dep.state.fl.us.