Landrieu: RESTORE Act One Step Closer to Becoming Law
NRDA Trustee Council announces an estimated $60 million in early restoration projects will soon begin along Gulf Coast
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today applauded House passage of framework of the RESTORE Act as part of the House transportation bill. This short-term legislation will help get the House and Senate to conference on a long-term transportation bill, and lays the groundwork for the full RESTORE Act to be included.
Last month, the RESTORE Act passed the Senate as an amendment to the transportation bill with a very strong bipartisan vote of 76 - 22. The RESTORE Act will dedicate 80 percent of BP penalties paid under the Clean Water Act to be directed to Gulf states to restore coastal ecosystems and rebuild local economies damaged by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil Spill.
"Congressman Scalise and the Louisiana delegation should be commended for a very strong vote on the House transportation bill, which includes the framework for the RESTORE Act. Our delegation is working closely with allies along the Gulf Coast and across our nation to pass a smart, balanced long-term transportation bill that includes the full RESTORE Act. The House short-term extension is an important bridge to get us to conference to craft a long-term transportation measure and get the RESTORE Act signed into law," Sen. Landrieu said.
Also today, the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Council announced that an estimated $60 million in early restoration projects will soon begin along the Gulf Coast. Eight restoration projects will be implemented under the "Deepwater Horizon Phase I Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Assessment" (ERP/EA). These projetcs will provide for marsh creation, coastal dune habitat improvements, nearshore artificial reef creation, and oyster cultch restoration, as well as the construction and enhancement of boat ramps to compensate for lost human use of resources.
"These restoration projects, coupled with the funds that we are pushing to have dedicated to the Gulf Coast under the RESTORE Act, are a critical component of our recovery," Sen. Landrieu said.
Sen. Landrieu and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., introduced the RESTORE Act in July 2011. 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. A RESTORE Act amendment, offered by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., passed the House in February.
The legislation 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 for Excellence.
See a list of the many organizations that support the RESTORE Act.
Last year, the National Oil Spill Commission's report on the BP oil spill recommended that no less than 80 percent of the BP penalty money go to Gulf Coast states for coastal and environmental restoration. And in 2010, 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.
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 in 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 General Treasury to be spent for purposes unaffiliated with the spill.