ASBPA sends letter to Congress endorsing RESTORE Act

By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund

Today, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) sent a letter to Congress endorsing and asking for swift passage of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act (S. 1400), a bill that would ensure oil spill fines are dedicated to gulf restoration. The letter, signed by ASBPA president Harry Simmons, urges Senate and House leadership to take immediate steps to pass the legislation.

The RESTORE Act would dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 gulf oil spill to Gulf Coast environmental and economic restoration. The bill has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, with nine out of 10 Gulf senators signed on as original cosponsors and 40 Gulf House members cosponsoring the bill.

Founded in 1926, the ASBPA is a nonprofit organization composed of elected officials from coastal communities nationwide as well as a large contingent of coastal engineers, researchers, scientists and regulators. As stated in their mission, the association is dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing the beaches, shores and other coastal resources of America.

“By allocating eighty percent of the Clean Water Act penalties to the five Gulf Coast States, the RESTORE Act creates an essential framework to manage and finance the economic and ecological recovery for years to come,” says the ASBPA in their letter. “Many communities and businesses are still struggling nearly two years after the spill began and experts fear that the total damage from the spill will not be known for years to come. Like the rest of our nation’s coastline, the Gulf Coast is comprised of vibrant and productive communities, as well as sensitive ecosystems that have been severely damaged. We believe that this bill balances both the ecological and economic interests of comprehensive restoration.”

The letter cites a recent study by Duke University showing that funds from the RESTORE Act would benefit at least 140 environmental restoration firms nationwide with over 400 employees in 37 states.

“We urge you to take immediate steps to pass the RESTORE Act,” concludes the letter, “So that the BP oil spill penalties can go where they belong: to ecosystem and economic recovery for the states and communities harmed by the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.”