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BP Oil Spill Response Update: EPA Administrator Names Executive Director for New Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force

WASHINGTON - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has named John H. Hankinson, Jr. to be the executive director of the newly established Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.  President Obama signed an executive order earlier this month establishing the task force, which will coordinate efforts to implement restoration programs and projects in the gulf coast region. Jackson, a New Orleans native, was named as chair of the task force due to her considerable involvement in the Obama Administration's immediate response efforts following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and her knowledge and extensive experience in environmental issues - factors that will be central in spurring actions to help to restore the region's ecosystem while providing important support for the economy.

"We're pleased that John has accepted this responsibility and is willing once again to step up and serve the people of the gulf coast.  He will play an instrumental role in fulfilling our commitment to a full and lasting restoration of this area," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "John's longtime experience with these issues and this region, along with his proven ability to get things done, will be invaluable assets in what is sure to be a long-term, hard-fought battle to restore the waters of the gulf.  I have every confidence in him."

"I spent my childhood on the gulf and I am proud and honored to have the opportunity to carry out the president's commitment to restoring this vital ecosystem," Hankinson said. "I look forward to hearing from everyone in the gulf coast - from community groups to businesses to scientists - as we go about restoring a national treasure that also happens to be an economic engine for the entire region."

Hankinson has spent 30 years working on environmental issues in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  The Florida native has brought together industry, government and stakeholder groups to form partnerships to restore ecosystems across the southeast.  He has worked on the National Estuary Program in the Gulf of Mexico and directed the development and implementation of a water quality protection plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  He has over 10 years experience overseeing the restoration and protection of the St. Johns River system in Florida.  Hankinson currently serves as an environment and conservation lands consultant, advising on land conservation, strategic land use decision-making, and constructive environmental management and policy projects across the Southeastern United States.  He served as regional administrator of EPA region 4 from 1994-2001.

As the executive director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, Hankinson - who will report directly to Administrator Jackson - will coordinate interagency efforts, oversee staff and outreach efforts develop a regional ecosystem restoration strategy and ensure that science underpins the task force's efforts.  Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will each have a state representative on the task force.  The representatives will be selected by the governors of each gulf state and then appointed by President Obama, along with one senior official from each of several federal agencies, including the departments of Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Transportation.  The task force will also integrate local stakeholders, representatives from affected tribes, and the scientific and academic communities.  The task force will have a presence in each of the gulf states, in addition to Washington, D.C.

Administrator Jackson will hold the first meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force on November 8 in Pensacola, Fla.  More information about that meeting will be announced as it becomes available.

View President Obama's executive order: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/10/05/executive-order-gulf-coast-ecosystem-restoration-task-force

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