Texas Governor Rick Perry announced $4 million in state funding to support the creation of consortiums between Texas universities to study offshore energy development, including research and technology advancements that improve the sustainable and safe development of energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico.
This $4 million in state grants is being provided from funds given to Texas by BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and adds to the federal RESTORE Act funding already announced to create the two centers of excellence for housing the two consortiums.
Gov. Perry said in a release announcing the funding that it will support research at Texas universities “that will look at both the lessons of the past and challenges of the future to make energy exploration in our nation more effective.”
One of the requirements of the RESTORE Act is that the five Gulf States affected by the oil spill should establish these centers of excellence to conduct research on the Gulf Coast region.
Some $4.1 million in federal funding will be made available for these centers of excellence from the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Treasury and funded by the administrative and civil penalties paid by those responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
As required for federal funding opportunities, the two Texas consortiums were selected through a competitive process based on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s regulations for awarding grants.
TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker represents the State of Texas on the RESTORE Council, and is charged with managing the implementation of the RESTORE Act in Texas.
Commissioner Baker said in a TCEQ release that he is pleased that the first resources allocated from the RESTORE Trust Fund will enrich the Texas economy through research and development, while also highlighting the state’s commitment to the health of the coastlines.
One of the centers of excellence will be led by the University of Houston, and its members include the NASA Johnson Space Center, Rice University, Houston Community College, Lone Star Community College and Texas Southern University.
The second one will be led by Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, and its members include Texas A&M University – College Station, Texas A& M University – Galveston, the University of Texas Medical Branch–Galveston, the University of Texas at Brownsville, Texas State University, and the University of Houston Law Center.
The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association is a member of this second consortium as well, and so are the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and the Center for Translational Environmental Health Research.
This consortium will look at sustainable offshore energy development through advances in research and technology, and study restoration and protection of the coast and deltas. They’ll also be doing research and monitoring of the Gulf Coast’s coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystems, and monitoring and mapping the gulf.
The scope of their activities also covers Texas economic development and sustainable and resilient growth in the region. The role of these centers could expand further as more financial resources are devoted to the RESTORE Trust Fund.