By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Representative Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) representing the people of Alabama both released statements after a Congressional conference committee reached agreement on a Transportation Bill and included a compromise version of the RESTORE Act in the final draft of the bill.
Rep. Bonner said, “This spring, both the House and Senate incorporated versions of the RESTORE Act in their federal transportation legislation, however a final agreement on the transportation bill has remained elusive until now. Throughout the negotiations over the new transportation bill, House and Senate leaders have worked closely with Gulf Coast lawmakers to retain the RESTORE provisions and ensure the five Gulf States and the affected communities will have the most flexibility in spending these resources for environmental and economic projects with the least federal interference.”
Sen. Sessions said, “I want to congratulate the conferees for reaching an agreement on a final conference report for this important highway bill. In particular, I appreciate the active leadership of Sen. Shelby for his work on the conference committee and for fighting for the inclusion of the RESTORE Act, a common-sense proposal that will direct penalties relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast communities that were affected. This is great news for our state.”
Representative Bonner continued, “After a full year of hard work by Gulf Coast lawmakers, the RESTORE Act is finally on a path to passage,” said Congressman Bonner. “Last year, I joined fellow Members of Congress from the five Gulf Coast states in introducing legislation, known as the RESTORE ACT, to direct 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines levied against those responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to a newly-created Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.”
Sen. Sessions said, “Enactment of the RESTORE Act has been one of my top legislative priorities, especially as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over both the Clean Water Act and the highway bill. In addition to Sen. Shelby’s efforts, I also appreciate the good work of Rep. Bonner and our other Gulf Coast colleagues in seeing this through.”
The new Transportation bill still has to pass a final vote in both the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate before it can go to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
British Petroleum (BP) is expected to receive a hefty fine by the government for its role in the 2010 accidental explosion of the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ Oil Drilling Platform that killed several oil workers and unleashed millions of gallons of unrefined petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico damaging the Coastlines of five states including Alabama and potentially harming entire ecosystems and fisheries. Scientists are still studying the long term consequences of the release of so much oil, although early surveys have shown surprising resilience by the marine life. BP is also negotiating a settlement with the affected states including Alabama.