Landrieu: Bipartisan RESTORE Act Advances in Senate
Senators Legislation Would Direct 80% of BP Penalties from Oil Spill to Gulf Coast Statesw
WASHINGTON — Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., to dedicate at least 80 percent of BP penalties paid under the Clean Water Act to Gulf states to restore coastal ecosystems and rebuild local economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill took its first important step toward passage today with approval by a key Senate committee.
The RESTORE the Gulf Act of 2011 was reported favorably out of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and now moves on to the full Senate for final consideration.
“I commend the Senate Environment Committee for its quick consideration and approval of the RESTORE Act. This is the most important step Congress can take to ensure that the Gulf Coast recovers from the economic and ecological destruction caused by the oil spill,” Sen. Landrieu said. “By directing BP penalty money back to the states that are dealing with the clean-up and restoration from this devastating spill, we help ensure that the Gulf Coast continues to thrive for decades to come. I look forward to a vote by the full Senate on this important legislation as soon as possible and will continue to push for similar action in the House. Today’s victory would not have been possible without the leadership of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the EPW Committee, and committee members Sens. David Vitter, R-La., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who helped move this legislation forward.”
Sen. Landrieu and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., introduced the RESTORE Act in July. Joining them as original cosponsors of the legislation were Sens. David Vitter, R-La.; Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Chair of the EPW Committee, was instrumental in forging agreement on the bill and securing its favorable report from her committee today.
The bill will do the following:
• Dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP to the restoration of the Gulf Coast
• Provide needed resources and flexibility to Gulf Coast states to start economic and ecological recovery immediately
• Establish a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and a Comprehensive Plan for the Gulf Coast focused on ecosystem and coastal restoration
• Establish a Long Term Science and Fisheries Endowment and Gulf Coast Centers of Excellence
Last year, the Gulf Coast Restoration Task Force, led by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, issued a report titled “America’s Gulf Coast,” for Congress to dedicate a significant amount of civil Clean Water Act penalties incurred by those responsible for the spill to the Gulf Coast. And, earlier this year, National Oil Spill Commission's report on the BP oil spill recommended that no less than 80 percent of the BP penalty money goes to Gulf Coast states for coastal and environmental restoration.
The Clean Water Act allows the Environmental Protection Agency to collect $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled, or $4,300 per barrel if there is a finding of gross negligence, from any party found responsible for an oil spill in federal waters. Based on the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, BP could face fines between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion. Under current law, this money would go to the U.S. Treasury and the Gulf Coast would receive nothing.