Groups Push Congress to Pass Gulf Restoration Legislation During Lame Duck Session

By Elly Pepper, Environmental Defense Fund

Currently under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the financial penalties BP would pay for causing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill would be deposited into the Federal Treasury.  However, the Treasury should not receive a windfall from a tragedy that severely damaged the Gulf region’s economy and environment.  These funds belong in the Gulf.

As such, our organizations are working to encourage Congress to pass legislation during the lame duck session that would devote a significant portion of the BP fines to Gulf Coast restoration.  This legislation would direct these funds to a robust state-federal partnership, including members from Alabama, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  This entity would then disburse the money to Gulf Coast restoration projects in accordance with a comprehensive plan.

Since the lame duck only is expected to last for several weeks, Congress must act quickly.  Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, as well as Representative Steve Scalise, already have introduced bills that would devote CWA penalties to Gulf restoration.  Now the Senate – including other Gulf state senators – must make it a priority to pass legislation during the lame duck.  Between now and the end of this Congress, our partner organizations will continue to build support for Gulf restoration in Congress.

Photo Credit: USFWS/Southeast