Groups hail Senate passage of transportation bill with gulf restoration amendment

Vote follows recent House approval of efforts to dedicate oil spill fines to gulf restoration

(Washington, D.C.—March 14, 2012) A coalition of six Gulf Coast restoration advocacy groups praised the Senate today for passing the Surface Transportation bill with an amendment that would dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines from BP and the other parties responsible for the Gulf oil spill to restoring the Gulf Coast. The current transportation bill expires on March 31.

The amendment, called the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act, is historic legislation that the full Senate passed last week with support from 76 senators, including every Senate Democrat and half of the Senate’s Republicans. The Senate’s approval of the RESTORE Act, whose lead sponsors include Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), follows the House’s recent approval of a similar RESTORE Act amendment sponsored by  Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) that was attached to the House transportation bill.

“Faith leaders, conservationists and sportsmen, and strong majorities of voters from both ends of the political spectrum in Gulf states and across the nation agree that it just makes sense for the fines from the Gulf spill to come back to help repair the economic and environmental damage done to the Gulf,” said a joint statement issued by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy and Oxfam America. “We thank the Senate leaders who have made this victory possible for the Gulf. Now we look forward to Congress passing, and the President signing into law, the final transportation bill with the RESTORE Act.”

The RESTORE Act will ensure that penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster are used to rebuild the economies of Gulf Coast communities that were impacted by the spill and to restore the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, barrier islands, dunes, and coastal wetlands, that are the foundation of the Gulf Coast economy.

A nationwide poll of 1,006 likely general election voters conducted by the Democratic firm, Lake Research Partners, and the GOP firm, Bellwether Research and Consulting, showed that the vast majority of U.S. voters (84 percent) believe the Gulf Coast — including the Mississippi River Delta — impacts the nation’s economy. Nearly two-thirds of those voters (63 percent) believe this region impacts the economy in their part of the country.

Sean Crowley, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.572.3331,
David J. Ringer, National Audubon Society, 601.642.7058,
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,
Heather Layman, The Nature Conservancy, 703.475.1733,
David Willett, Ocean Conservancy, 202.351.0465,
Andrew Blejwas, Oxfam America, 617.785-7047,