By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile released a statement to the press announcing his support for the creation of a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. Rep. Bonner said that the amendment to the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act is the first step in the process of passing the full Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunity, and Revived Economies of the Gulf States Act of 2011 Act (RESTORE), which still has to come up for a vote. 80% of the Clean Water Act oil spill fines will go towards the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.
Rep. Bonner said, “While not the end of our efforts to make the Gulf Coast whole after the BP—Deepwater Horizon oil spill nearly two years ago, the amendment before the House today is the first vote taken in either the House or Senate to create the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and is an important step forward.”
Bonner said that the vote was important because: “By going on record in passing the RESTORE amendment, the House today sent a signal to the Justice and Treasury Departments that the House of Representatives agrees that 80 percent of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill fines should be reserved in a trust fund for Gulf Coast restoration.”
Bonner continued, “The creation of the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund is a critical step to ensuring that the penalties paid by BP and other responsible parties are set aside for future expenditure to remediate the long-term environmental and economic damage done to each of the five Gulf States.”
British Petroleum’s (BP) fines for the oil released by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon are estimated to be anywhere between $3 billion and $21 billion. The BP trial could begin as early as next month and could take years if dragged though the appeals process. The federal government and BP could reach an out of court settlement could occur in coming weeks.
A bipartisan group of Gulf Coast Congressmen want 80% of any of those fines to go to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund instead of the federal treasury. The money would be used to clean up oil as it washes up from the bottom of the Gulf or is exposed by storms in marshland. Millions of gallons of oil were released into the Gulf by the Deepwater Horizons spill. The gulf has been losing marsh land at a rate of about 17 square miles a years (most of it in Louisiana). The trust fund would provide a funding mechanism to support projects that restore those disappearing marshes, which are important to Gulf Coast fisherman, shrimpers, and oyster fishermen.
Representative Jo Bonner is Congressman for Alabama’s First Congressional District. Rep. Bonner is being challenged by Peter Gounares, Pete Riehm, and Dean Young in the Republican Primary on March 13. Gounares and Riehm both oppose the RESTORE Act. Gounares has been quoted saying that BP fines should be divided up among Gulf Coast residents. There is no Democratic Party candidate on the November 6th General Election ballot.
To read the press release in its entirety: