RESTORE Act Means Cleaner Ecologically Safer Gulf Coast


A bipartisan group within Congress has been working since last summer to build support for a proposal that would provide a steady stream of funding for ongoing restoration work. Known as the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities, and Revived Economy (RESTORE) Act, the measure would ensure that fines raised from the Deepwater Horizon spill are dedicated primarily to restoring the economic and ecological damage to the Gulf region.

If enacted into law, the RESTORE Act will direct 80% of Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the Gulf oil spill to the coastal areas directly impacted by the spill. These funds could be used only for the affected areas’ ecological and economic recovery with the following breakdown:

* 65% of the funds will be spent by state and local task forces

* 30% of the funds will be spend by a federal-state task force

* 5% of the funds will be for Gulf fisheries and ecosystem research and monitoring

“The remaining 20% of the Clean Water Act penalties will be dedicated to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.” (“Another Milestone for RESTORE Act,” WKRG News – Mobile, AL, March 12, 2012)


While efforts to move the measure languished for much of 2011, sponsors were able to build a diverse, bipartisan support base to pass different versions of the provision in both the House and Senate in recent weeks.

“In a major boost for Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts, the Senate voted 76-22 Thursday to direct 80 percent of any Clean Water Act fines assessed in the 2010 BP oil spill to the five Gulf states. The fines are expected to be in the billions of dollars. …

“The House voted earlier to include key components of the Restore legislation in its transportation spending bill. But that measure has since stalled, and House Speaker John Boehner said he is strongly considering bringing the Senate bill up for a vote.” (“Senate approves amendment giving Gulf states 80 percent of BP spill fines,” New Orleans Times Picayune, March 8, 2012)


In fact, this proposal has garnered a wide range of support, from local officials to a group of more than 100 leaders of religious communities around the nation who recently wrote to Senate leadership urging them to act.

            ” ‘The effort to move the RESTORE Act — for Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy — has attracted support from a range of groups, including local officials and environmental groups.

           ” ‘The RESTORE Act is universally accepted,” said Connie Rockco, a commissioner from Harrison County, Miss. ‘Yet, the toxic environment of Washington politics has stalled the bill.’ ” (“Gulf Coast lawmakers push for RESTORE Act,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 9, 2012

            “Faith‐based organizations have worked tirelessly to support those most impacted by the oil spill … Yet, our efforts alone will not be enough to meet these needs and most especially will not be enough to restore a region that has suffered from decades of degradation with the BP disaster serving as the most recent and dramatic example. …

“Restoration projects that would be funded under this bill can help to protect communities, restore ecosystems, revive the tourism and fishing industries, and create tens of thousands of jobs as residents rebuild and diversify their economy.” (Letter released by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, February 13, 2012)

Source: Pew Research Center