Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Is Vital To Economy

Lower Alabama coastal wetlands seen July 24, 2010, from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an Alabama Army National Guard mission flown by B Company, 1-131 Aviation Regiment in support of BP oil spill recovery efforts. More than 1,600 National Guardmembers are supporting Operation Deepwater Horizon in four Gulf states. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill)
A task force appointed by President Barack Obama says the Gulf of Mexico needs a coordinated effort to keep it viable.

The report says coastal states must work together to restore elements of the Gulf of Mexico that have made it a backbone of the U.S. economy, before the ecosystem becomes so degraded and polluted it is no longer habitable for animals or people.

The Associated Press obtained the executive summary of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force's preliminary report. The task force was appointed after BP's oil spill last year, which highlighted the challenges facing the crucial ecosystem.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who heads the task force, says it is vital to restore sediment and stop the flow of fertilizers from the Midwest into the Gulf.

The task force is asking Congress to dedicate "significant portions" of oil spill penalties to recovery efforts.