By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama applauded the final Senate approval of a bicameral legislative package that includes the RESTORE Act. The RESTORE Act a Senate bill that was attached to the transportation bill which will help Gulf States continue the long-term recovery from the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Sen. Shelby and Senator Mary Landrieu (D) from Louisiana co-authored the bill. BP and the other parties responsible for the disaster are going to be penalized with $billions in Cleanwater Act fines for its role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 the RESTORE Act moves that money to restore the Gulf Coast communities impacted by the spill instead of sending it to the U.S. Treasury.
Sen. Shelby said, “Once considered a legislative long shot, today’s victory for Alabama Gulf Coast communities, businesses and families was more than two years in the making. While national attention to the oil spill may have abated, my commitment to helping restore Alabama’s Gulf Coast has not. Central to this legislation is that impacted communities will not only receive this money directly, but also control how it is spent through local, accountable officials and a transparent process. I believe that those on the front lines of the oil spill know best how to allocate this money to meet their needs. It is my hope that strong civic participation will lead to a robust process that will revive the Alabama Gulf Coast for decades to come. I thank my co-author, Senator Mary Landrieu, as well as the rest of my Gulf Coast colleagues, including Senator Jeff Sessions, who strongly advocated for passage of the RESTORE Act.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) said, “We are excited to see that Congress has passed this measure. This will enable funding from the Clean Water Act fines and penalties to be distributed and spent in the Gulf states most directly impacted by the devastating oil spill. This will be a major help in seeking to revitalize an area that’s been impacted environmentally and economically. I want to thank Alabama’s Congressional delegation for support of this measure. We greatly appreciate their work in a cooperative manner to help the people of this state. The efforts of our delegation, and other delegations from coastal states, were vital to successful passage of the RESTORE Act.”
The legislation now awaits the president’s signature to become law.
A House Senate Conference Committee passed the Shelby-Landrieu Senate version of the RESTORE Act instead of the House version along with the highway and transit Reauthorization bill and reauthorization for the National Flood Insurance Program. The bill also included provisions that would keep student loan interest rates from increasing. The House and Senate both passed the Conference Committee’s version on Friday before adjourning for the Independence Day holiday. The legislation now awaits President Barack H Obama’s signature to become law.
The RESTORE Act directs 80% of the Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the Gulf oil spill to the coastal areas impacted by the spill. These funds are limited to being used only for the affected areas’ ecological and economic recovery. Of that 80%, 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, and 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. Alabama’s funds will be spent by a panel chaired by Governor Bentley.