Perry Kicks Off Gulf of Mexico Summit
Gov. Rick Perry today kicked-off the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit, a three-day conference where leaders from government, industry and academia will work to improve the environmental and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico, and further efforts to recover and rebuild after the devastating 2005 hurricane season.
"In many ways, our common coastline points us towards a common future. That is why we are here - to plan for the future together, so that we can succeed together," Perry said. "Every Gulf Coast state on both sides of our international border brings a unique perspective on managing our shared waters and responding to the challenges we all face. By sharing proven strategies, lessons learned in the past and new ideas for the future, our states will benefit both individually and collectively."
As part of the summit, top environmental officials from the White House and U.S. and Mexican states are expected to issue a report, The Governors' Action Plan for Healthy and Resilient Coasts, that outlines ways to improve and protect water quality, restore coastal wetlands and estuarine ecosystems, reduce pollution and nutrient loading, identify gulf habitats to support coastal management, and expand environmental education.
Perry pointed out that the Gulf of Mexico is the most economically productive body of water in both the United States and Mexico, largely due to the region's busy ports and vibrant petroleum, fishing and tourism industries. Perry also said that although population growth along much of the Gulf Coast has fueled the region's economy, growth has also placed greater demands on the environment. Large coastal populations also create unique challenges for emergency managers, who have an eye toward the approaching 2006 hurricane season, which will begin on June 1.
"Because we all share the Gulf's benefits, we also share a responsibility to take care of it. The fact is, gulf waters respect no borders, and what happens in one coastal state can have a tremendous positive or negative impact on the entire group," Perry said. "Restored habitat in one state might ultimately result in new fishery jobs in another, and shipping or retail jobs in a third. Pollution problems that begin off one state's coastline could end up damaging ecosystems and tourism-based economies for hundreds of miles. And as we saw during last year's devastating hurricane season, a catastrophic weather event can dramatically alter life not just for those who experience Mother Nature's wrath firsthand, but for the entire region."
Perry hosted the summit with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's Harte Research Institute. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco attended, along with Gov. Hernandez of Tamaulipas and Gov. Herrera of Veracruz.
"With this summit as a starting point, I am confident that Gulf Coast states will chart a course that leads to healthier wetlands and cleaner water, renewed conservation efforts, a stronger, more productive economy for the next generation, and greater collaboration and coordination in times of emergency," Perry said.