It was standing-room-only in the historic Old Statehouse Legislative Chamber in Montgomery, Alabama, on Wednesday, as Gov. Bob Riley and Gov.-elect Robert Bentley accepted the first bound copies of A Roadmap to Resilience, the report of the Coastal Recovery Commission (CRC) of Alabama.
The Commission’s responsibility was to propose strategies for strengthening Alabama’s coastal region to be more resilient in the face of challenges such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the summer of 2010. Gov. Riley, who launched the CRC with an executive order in late September, said he had high expectations all along, but that the 80+ member commission under Mobile Press-Register publisher Ricky Mathews, had “taken this to a different level.”
Gov. Riley lauded the effort as “a benchmark . . a blueprint” to guide the new governor and the new state legislature. And Gov.-elect Bentley promised the packed house that he respected the process the CRC has taken to produce the report and that his administration would take the “blueprint” seriously.
The Mobile Press-Register said the report “merits immediate attention and action’ in its Dec. 16 editorial.
“South Alabama has changed in ways unimaginable since the oil spill occurred in April,” said the ediorital. “But perhaps the worst is over, now that everyone has come together to map out a plan for a brighter future. No matter what happens from here on out, the region has demonstrated that it is willing to seize control of its own destiny. That alone is an impressive accomplishment.”
Already, the state government is acting on key recommendations of the CRC’s Roadmap. Gov. Riley announced at the Wednesday gathering that he would soon sign an executive order creating a new Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to work with other Gulf states to advance seafood safety testing and marketing. The state has reached a tentative agreement, said the governor, with BP to fund that testing and marketing effort in Alabama with $9 million.
Other proposals from the CRC are expected to be high on the new state leaders’ agendas.
The afternoon included a video presentation detailing the challenges and opportunities presented by the oil spill, as well as summarizing the path taken by the Commission.
Formation of a Coastal Leadership Council, immediately seeded with CRC funding, to formalize the citizen-based process of the Commission and to take its proposals into the implementation stage. At the top of the agenda will be long-range strategic planning process, also seeded with CRC money. That next big step will bring actionable detail to the Commission’s Roadmap and guide coastal Alabama into the coming decades.