Published: Oct 05, 2011 2:58 PM EDT

HOUSTON (AP) - A task force appointed by President Barack Obama 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 key 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.

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