|The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust was established as a result of a Final Consent Decree in Cause No. 6:17-CV-00047 on December 9,
2019, San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper and S. Diane Wilson, vs. Formosa Plastics Corp., Texas and Formosa Plastics Corp., U.S.A.,
in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division.
The Consent Decree disposed of the lawsuit by requiring changes at the Formosa Plastics facility, review and monitor of discharges,
efforts to clean up the discharges, mitigation projects and imposition of penalties until the discharges cease.
In addition to the required changes outline above, the Consent Decree further required the separate establishment of the Matagorda
Bay Mitigation Trust with the appointment of an independent Trustee to manage and distribute Funds paid by the Defendants for certain projects
along with associated funding, funding schedule and objectives, and scope of the mitigation projects to be implemented and administered under
the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust.
|Matagorda Bay Fishing Cooperative
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a non-profit organization with offices throughout the South, will be charged with forming a Matagorda Bay Fishing Cooperative and, if necessary, a netting and/or transportation cooperative to support the Fishing Cooperative under a project called the Matagorda Bay Cooperative Development Project.
The Matagorda Bay and San Antonio Bay Systems have historically had a thriving fishing, shrimping, and oystering industry that has declined due, in part, to pollution of the Bays. The purpose of this project is environmental restoration and protection, specifically to revitalize the marine ecosystems and promote long-term sustainable fisheries by supporting the fishing community to work together to sustain harvests from the Bay Systems in an environmentally responsible manner.
The Federation will work with local fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen to organize a local Cooperative with the goal of improving the ecosystem and developing sustainable fishing, shrimping, and oystering of the Bay Systems. Funds may be expended for:
- Organizing a local Cooperative;
- Implementing sustainable fishing practices;
- Promoting mechanisms to create sustainable harvest;
- Analyzing best markets for environmentally responsible seafood harvest;
- Determining and investing in necessary infrastructure as explained below.
The Federation may make zero interest loans to the Cooperative(s) for:
- The purchase of infrastructure or other needs consistent with the goal of improving the ecosystem and developing sustainable fishing, shrimping, and oystering of the Bay Systems.
- Repayments of loans will go to Federation to be used exclusively on the Matagorda Bay Fishing Cooperative Project.
The Federation may determine that formation of other cooperatives, such as netting or transportation cooperatives, are necessary to support a sustainable fishing community and may expend funds towards organizing those cooperatives.
The Cooperative may recommend to the Federation that funds earmarked for the Project be spent in coordination with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on oyster reef restoration and aquaculture projects in the Bay Systems.
Green Lake Park, Calhoun County
The purpose of this project is environmental restoration and protection of Green Lake, Calhoun County, specifically to restore the lake to its historic condition, including repairing a recent breach due to Hurricane Harvey and provide Funds for development of public access to the Park.
Green Lake is the second largest natural lake in the State of Texas, but does not have public access, and has not been developed or protected in a way to ensure its natural environment is sustained. Green Lake was recently purchased by Calhoun County.
Calhoun County will use Trust funds to repair the current breach from Green Lake waters which is causing seepage from Green Lake into adjacent waters. Thereafter, funds will be used to develop, operate and maintain Green Lake Park as a publicly available park without recreational vehicle hook-ups, but otherwise consistent with the Green Lake Master Plan.
Any funding left after construction of the Park will be spent on operation and maintenance of the park.
Port Lavaca YMCA
The purpose of this project is environmental education, specifically to give local children the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the local ecosystem.
The Port Lavaca YMCA is a branch of Young Men’s Christian Association of the Golden Crescent, Inc. located in Victoria, Texas.
Beach erosion and pollution of the Bay Systems and their shores has limited recreational opportunity to children of Calhoun County. The Port Lavaca YMCA will conduct camps for children and teenagers in the area, which will be focused on education about how to be a good steward of the local ecosystems and will teach outdoor education and recreation activities.
Free transportation will be offered to the camps and children who meet federal low-income standards will be given a scholarship to attend and will be provided free meals and snacks.
Funding may also be spent for housing for summer staff to conduct the camps and to train staff on the ecology of the Bay Systems. Funding may also be used for the purchase of equipment for the camps.
Magnolia Beach, Calhoun County
The purpose of this Mitigation Project is environmental restoration and protection specifically to restore Magnolia Beach and to allow use by the public.
Calhoun County will undertake projects for erosion control and beach restoration at Magnolia Beach including the purchase and use of clean and uncontaminated fill material, planting of native plants, necessary construction to prevent future erosion and necessary maintenance to prevent beach erosion.
Beach erosion and pollution of Lavaca Bay and its shores has limited recreational opportunities for the people of Calhoun County. Magnolia Beach has sustained harm from erosion and is also a location where plastics has been found.
UT Marine Science Institute
The purpose of this Mitigation Project is environmental quality assessment and environmental education, specifically to support the Nurdle Patrol which documents the discharge of plastics on the Gulf Shore, and to host conferences on environmental issues on the Gulf Coast.
The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is to use funds to support the Nurdle Patrol and for workshops and meetings, and to provide scholarships for attendance, food, transportation and expenses at conferences.
Environmental Research Mitigation Projects
The Bay Systems have suffered environmental degradation, including the repeated discharges of pollutants. The purpose of this Mitigation Project is funding for specific environmental research projects to better understand the extent and impacts of environmental degradation in these ecosystems as well as possible solutions for restoration and mitigation.
The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust shall undertake one or more environmental research mitigation projects providing for funding for environmental research regarding the Bay Systems, or the river deltas in Calhoun or Jackson Counties feeding into those systems.
Funding may be provided for environmental research topics including, but not limited to, the ecology, pollution, fisheries, or habitat and wildlife restoration of the ecosystems.
The Trustee shall set up a system to provide funding for research, including providing public notice of the research opportunity and setting up a review process for applications with researchers in applicable fields.
Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust Mitigation Project
The purpose of this mitigation project is to research, protect, and restore the water bodies and surrounding ecosystems of Matagorda Bay and San Antonio Bay or the river deltas feeding into those systems. The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust shall award funds for the benefit of these waterbodies and the public, including for:
- Providing public education about those waterbodies;
- Sponsoring youth camps that focus on how to be a good steward of the local ecosystems and to teach outdoor education and recreation;
- Purchasing land in the watersheds of those waterbodies for conservation purposes, in order to reduce runoff and other pollution into those waterbodies, and to improve physical or visual public access to them;
- Environmental research of those waterbodies, including but not limited to, the ecology, pollution, fisheries, or habitat and wildlife restoration of the ecosystems;
- Environmental advocacy, except for litigation;
- Habitat restoration; and,
- Additional funding for any of the previously described projects in this project summary.
The Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust Mitigation Project will have an Awards Committee that will establish the process for applications for, and distribution of, the funding for projects.