RESTORE ActFeb 15th, 2012 | By William Dilella | Category: news
Legislators pushing for congressional action before BP settlement decision
The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act, or RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act, has been passed around through Congress these last two terms. The point of the bill, being hailed already as one of the few unequivocal bi-partisan measures on the Congressional floor, is to divvy up much of the soon coming settlement between the Federal Government and the BP-Gulf Coast Claims Facility representatives between Gulf States.
The bill was the brainchild of a number of local and federal legislators from Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, who all firmly believe that a settlement for a Gulf Coast tragedy should not be placed into the national pot.
“The RESTORE act would have a way of redirecting funds to the Gulf Coast, which was hardest hit,” said Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. “And it is supported by environmental and business groups because it’s a well-balanced and very fair formula.”
The formula would, as the senator remarked, redirect any settlement funds—at least 80-percent—away from the national treasury and directly into the states hit.
“Section 3 would establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund,” the synopsis for RESTORE states. “The legislation would credit to the Trust Fund amounts equal to 80-percent of all administrative and civil penalties paid by responsible parties in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The amounts in the fund and the interest earned shall be available without further appropriation solely for the purposes and eligible activities of this Act.”
“The President said in his State of the Union speech that he was looking for a strong, bipartisan piece of legislation to vote on,” Landrieu said. “I think this is it.”
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, in his own recent visit to Washington, has been swaying congressional votes with pictures of the ongoing devastation on the Parish’s shores.
“We brought up pictures of dead birds, turtles and the oil still there showing up on shore,” Nungesser said. “With every storm it washes up, and it’s only going to take a small hurricane to wash that to Texas, Mississippi or Florida.
“This spill was ten-times bigger than the Exxon-Valdez,” he continued, referring to the ecological damage that Alaska’s coast suffered for years after its own environmental disaster. “And if we don’t have these dedicated funds, the Gulf Coast will pay for decades to come.”
Congressional House Rep. Steve Scalise (LA) has also been participating, and said the greatest hope to secure this action before any agreement is reached between the Government and BP is to attach it to something already heading to President Barak Obama’s desk.
“In the House, we’ve been trying to get a bill through [this term],” Scalise said. “It’s important to emphasize that the Gulf Coast took the lion-share of the disaster, so that money should stay along the Gulf Coast, so we can restore the damage done environmentally and economically.”
Their goal, Scalice said, is to get RESTORE through Congress before April, when yet another anniversary of the disaster will pass.
“Time is our biggest obstacle,” Scalice said.