Bipartisan House Gulf Caucus formed to support restoration of the Gulf of Mexico’s environment and economy following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

A coalition of environmental, economic, and social equity organizations celebrated the news that Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) have formed a bipartisan House Gulf Caucus to support restoration of the region’s environment and economy following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The coalition of groups, working together as the Gulf Renewal Project, support the Oil Commission’s recommendation that 80% of Clean Water Act (CWA) penalties to be paid by BP and other responsible parties go directly to Gulf restoration, to help the region recover economically and environmentally from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and past degradation.  Directing the CWA penalties specifically to Gulf restoration will require specific action by Congress. Otherwise, the CWA penalties automatically will be deposited in the Federal Treasury.

“Congressman Scalise and Congresswoman Castor have the full support of Greater New Orleans, Inc. in the establishment of the bipartisan Congressional Gulf Coast Caucus, which will provide members of Congress with the opportunity to ensure the economic vitality of the Gulf Coast,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.  “The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster made it imperative for the Gulf Coast region to work together toward coastal restoration, creating jobs and spurring economic growth along the entire Gulf Coast, and this caucus is a great forum for that discussion.”

“The Gulf Caucus will play a key role in ensuring that the people, the economies and the ecosystems of the Gulf Region get the help they need to recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and decades of damage from hurricanes and other factors,” said the joint statement by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Ocean Conservancy, Oxfam America, and The Nature Conservancy.  “The damage from the oil spill is still causing harm to the Gulf culture, economy and environment of the region, and the health of the Gulf ecosystem and the health of our economy are directly linked.  Congress must act this year to make good on promises made to the Gulf to ensure the region gets the help it deserves.”

The Gulf region is a vital part of the nation’s economy:

  • The Gulf currently supports a $34 billion a year tourism industry, and its fisheries support an estimated $22.6 billion dollars in seafood, commercial and recreational fishing related activity.
  • The Gulf produces 40 percent of all the seafood in the lower 48 states.
  • The region is home to ten of our nation’s 14 largest ports by tonnage. More than 25 percent of the nation’s waterborne exports pass through Louisiana ports alone.

The organizations working together for restoration as the Gulf Renewal Project include:

Environmental Defense Fund
National Audubon Society
National Wildlife Federation
The Nature Conservancy
Ocean Conservancy
Oxfam America