Gulf Senators Praised for Cosponsoring Bill to Restore Gulf

Bill dedicates oil spill fines to restore Gulf communities, economies & ecosystems

07-21-2011 // Emily Guidry Schatzel
Replanting marsh grass - Bayou Savauge NWR

A coalition of organizations supporting Gulf restoration celebrated news today that a bipartisan coalition of Gulf senators is cosponsoring the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act. The legislation seeks to ensure that penalties paid by BP and others responsible for last year’s Gulf oil disaster are used to help restore the region’s communities, economies and environments instead of going to unrelated federal spending.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) are the original cosponsors of the bill, and are now joined by Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kay Bailey-Hutchison (R-TX). Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who was instrumental in securing the agreement among the senators, has pledged to consider this bill in her committee quickly.

“The damage from the oil spill was done in the Gulf, so Congress should ensure that oil spill fines go to the Gulf, not to unrelated federal spending,” reads a joint statement issued by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature ConservancyOcean Conservancy and Oxfam America. “This Gulf state agreement paves the way for Congress to do what voters expect: hold the parties responsible for the Gulf oil disaster accountable for restoring the Gulf because our nation’s economy depends on a healthy Gulf region.”

bipartisan poll conducted this spring showed that 83 percent of voters nationwide support – and 69 percent strongly support – dedicating the Gulf oil spill penalties to restoring the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast. The poll also showed support among voters from across the political spectrum:

  • 90 percent of Democrats 
  • 84 percent of independents
  • 76 percent of Republicans
  • 78 percent of those who say they agree with the Tea Party movement

Nearly 500 miles – almost half – of the coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida that was contaminated by the Gulf oil disaster remains oiled one year later, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.

“There is much more work to be done to ensure that a strong and effective restoration bill for the Gulf ultimately becomes law and this is a positive and commendable first step. We look forward to working with the Gulf delegation, other members of Congress and the administration on passage of a bill that meets the restoration needs of this critical ecosystem and its vulnerable communities,” the statement concludes.

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