U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order creating a task force that coordinates efforts to restore the southern U.S. coast affected by BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Marshlands along the coast, the fishing industry, tourism and sensitive marine habitats were damaged during the summer by the worst accidental offshore oil spill in history.
Obama in his executive order said that, as a national treasure, the United States needs to preserve the vibrant ecosystem, diverse economies and cultures along the Gulf Coast.
The task force coordinates regional leadership in an effort to drive restoration planning and decision-making processes.
Lisa Jackson, a Gulf Coast native and head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said creating a community-driven process was a smart move.
"The president has made clear that he wants restoration plans to come from the Gulf Coast, and not be imposed on the gulf residents by Washington," she said in a statement.
The task force is called on to prepare a strategy that outlines an ecosystem restoration agenda within one year.
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