By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday President Barack Obama on Friday plans to sign into law an omnibus package of legislation that included the RESTORE Act. The bill also prevents interest rate increases on new loans to millions of college students and maintains jobs on transportation projects across the nation.
Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile said, “The approval of RESTORE clears a path for hundreds of millions and potentially billions of dollars from BP and others involved in the Deepwater Horizon spill to fund local Gulf Coast economic and environmental restoration, including in Baldwin and Mobile counties.”
Rep. Bonner said, “The tragic 2010 oil spill disrupted our regional economy and the environment in ways that will take many years to restore. Gulf Coast lawmakers had a short window in which to pass the RESTORE Act to ensure that a majority of future Clean Water Act fine money paid by BP will directly flow to the region most harmed by this unprecedented disaster.
“Without RESTORE, the BP oil spill fine money would have simply gone to the federal treasury with very little direct benefit to our region. It has taken a year to get to the finish line, but the Gulf Coast can finally breathe a sigh of relief,” Congressman Bonner added.
President Barack H. Obama said, “First of all, this bill will keep thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. Second, this bill will keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling this year — which would have hit nearly 7.5 million students with an average of a thousand dollars more on their loan payments.”
Pres. Obama said, “I’m very pleased that Congress got this done. I’m grateful to members of both parties who came together and put the interests of the American people first. And my message to Congress is what I’ve been saying for months now — let’s keep going. Let’s keep moving forward. Let’s keep finding ways to work together to grow the economy and to help put more folks back to work. There is no excuse for inaction when there are so many Americans still trying to get back on their feet.”
While passage of the RESTORE Act into law means that 80% of the BP fine money will go to the Gulf Coast states affected by the Deepwater Horizon we still do not know how much money or when because BP and the other parties to the spill are still negotiating a settlement with attorneys from the U.S. Justice Department and the states.
The bill also authorized that more than $100 billion will be spent on highway, mass transit, and other transportation projects in the next two years. One project in Alabama that was dependent on passage of the bill was the Northern Beltline in Jefferson County. The new Interstate will connect I-59 near the Deerfoot Parkway in Trussville to I-65, I-22 (Corridor X), and finally I-20/I-59 near Bessemer. The Alabama Department of Transportation has already begun the first segment of the project near Pinson.
Congressman Jo Bonner represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District in South Alabama. Rep. Bonner decisively defeated three opponents in the March Republican Primary without a runoff. He faces no opposition in the November general election.