The Restore Act has been directing money to everything from replanting sea grass, to scientific research, to repairing roads on the Gulf Coast, all in an effort to repair at least some of the damage from the BP oil spill. Now that many of those projects are completed, M.D.E.Q. is looking to streamline their operation. Trudy Fisher, the Executive Director of M.D.E.Q., says, "Each of those categories or buckets has discreet areas and opportunities for Mississippi that we'll be focusing on, along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and N.E.R.T.A. How do we leverage all of these opportunities to maximize what we can accomplish here in Mississippi?" As we reach the four year anniversary of the BP oil spill that polluted the Coast’s shores, Fisher says progress has been made in restoring ecosystems, but there is always room for improvement.
Fisher also says, "We do have accomplishments in that we have almost 90 million dollars of projects that are on the books or in the works, and the public will be seeing a lot more activity this year, in 2014. We're going to be out in the community a lot more." Fisher says this year they want to be more visible in communities and wrap up litigations with BP. Several cases are still going on in the New Orleans Federal Court. Fisher closes, "There's the natural resource damage assessment claims that are still in the legal process. There is also the Civil Clean Water Act penalty that is in litigation as well, and that is what ultimately funds the Restore Act." Fisher says there is no timeline for when the Restore Act funding will expire, but makes it clear that the M.D.E.Q.'s mission is focused on maximizing their projects to best serve the Gulf Coast while funds are still available. M.D.E.Q. is planning on having more discussions and meetings this year with various Gulfport businesses and environmental agencies so that there is continuity between all groups involved.