EPA taps Florida’s Hankinson as director of Gulf restoration panel

John H. Hankinson Jr., a Florida native and former regional U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, was named Monday as executive director of the new federal Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order earlier this month establishing the task force, which will coordinate restoration programs and projects following the BP oil spill last summer. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, a New Orleans native, was named as chair of the task force, which will hold its first meeting in Pensacola on Nov. 8.

Hankinson is chairman of Audubon of Florida and served as regional EPA administrator from 1994 to 2001. He previously was in charge of land acquisition at the St. Johns River Water Management District and was a staff director at the Florida House of Representatives.

“I spent my childhood on the Gulf and I am proud and honored to have the opportunity to carry out the president’s commitment to restoring this vital ecosystem,” Hankinson said in a statement, issued by the EPA, in which Jackson announced the appointment.

Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday praised Hankinson’s selection.

“John understands the strong link between Florida’s economy and the Gulf, especially for our tourism and seafood industries. Nothing is more important to Florida’s future than cleaning up any oil that remains in the Gulf of Mexico,” the governor said in a statement.

Information about the Nov. 8 task force meeting will be announced later, the EPA said. The president’s order establishing the task force is available by
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/10/05/executive-order-gulf-coast-ecosystem-restoration-task-force”>clicking here

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Photo provided by Audubon of Florida. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting brucebritchie@gmail.com.)