House Committee Praised for Holding Hearing on Gulf Restoration
Hearing follows two new reports recommending Congress use oil spill fines to restore Gulf
Emily Guidry Schatzel
Groups supporting restoration of the Gulf Coast today thanked House leaders on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for drawing attention to the benefits of the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act of 2011 by holding a committee hearing on the bill today at 10am. The RESTORE Act would ensure that fines paid by BP and the other parties responsible for last year’s Gulf oil spill are used to support both environmental and economic restoration in the region, instead of going to unrelated federal spending.
“Holding those responsible for the Gulf oil disaster accountable and making sure the fines they pay go back to the Gulf region is both a matter of fairness and common sense,” said a joint statement by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy and Oxfam America. “We thank Chairman Mica and ranking member Rahall for holding a full committee hearing on this critical issue. Our thanks also go to leaders throughout the Gulf region who are working across the aisle to get this bill passed, so the ecosystems of the Gulf can continue to be a driver of our nation’s economy and a safe home to the communities that make it a national treasure.”
A bipartisan group of nine Gulf senators have introduced a similar bill in the Senate, also called the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act (S. 1400). The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee overwhelmingly approved the bill in September.
Today’s hearing comes on the heels of Monday’s release of the final report by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. It recommends Congress ensure that a “significant portion” of the $5 billion to $21 billion in expected fines for last year’s 4.9 million barrel Gulf oil spill go to restoring the Gulf.
Duke University also released a report on Monday concluding the Gulf oil spill fines could kick start the launch of a long-term investment in ecosystem restoration and create jobs that would benefit at least 140 businesses with nearly 400 employee locations in 37 states.