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Ecological Restoration - How Do We Pay For It?

The ecological problems we are facing today actually developed over decades. This was when the importance and fragile nature of the environment were not fully understood.

The three major issues involved with financing ecological restoration are: what will the cost be, who is going to pay for it and will the plan work?

There are three examples that show how many factors can come into play regarding ecological restoration.

Great Lakes

Portions of the Great Lakes were once call toxic soup areas because of runoff by the industrial community. A massive effort was launched by the environmental movement to force industrial concerns to find new ways to dispose of waste material. There was a good measure of success, but some pollution hot spots remain. The lakes are still threatened by invasive species of fish, shoreline development and other issues.

Florida Everglades

In 1948, the creation of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control project began, and much of the Florida Everglades ecosystem was drained to create a system of canals and dikes to control the flow of water to accommodate agriculture and urban development. Approximately, 50 percent of the Everglades have been lost but the remainder is now protected as a national park.

 

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Gulf of Mexico—Louisiana Coastline

The Gulf of Mexico is unique. It is a major supplier of seafood for the United States. It is also one of the most prolific oil and gas producing areas in the world. Near the shores of Louisiana, is an area of wetlands and barrier islands, which offer some protection from hurricanes. This area is subject to impact by normal oil and gas activities and the unusual events such as the BP oil spill in 2010. In addition, Gulf Coast States are prime targets for hurricanes, which can send flood waters over levees and flood walls, release torrents of rain on the inland areas and destroy many restoration efforts.

Resolving Conflict Between Nature and Man

Many restoration efforts have been and are being attempted in the Gulf of Mexico. Many have been destroyed by the unpredictable hurricanes. Oil and gas production is prohibited off the West Coast of Florida, but Cuba, located a few miles south of the Florida Keys is beginning to develop its own oil and gas industry in the Gulf, bringing in foreign countries to help. Thus, oil and gas production in the Gulf is going to continue, even if the United States stopped all production in its territorial waters.

The Solution

Thus far, the ultimate solution has not been found. Everyone agrees the environment needs to be protected. Most agree urban development, agriculture, and water-based commerce must continue. Despite the call for alternative fuels, oil and natural gas are going to be the nation's major fuel sources for many years. Therefore, the problem is to come up with regulations that will allow for harmony between industry and environmental preservation and somehow cope with naturally-occurring disasters. That solution has not been found, thus no one knows the cost.

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