New report on Gulf oil spill damage reinforces need for restoration

Groups urge Congress to pass RESTORE Act to dedicate oil spill fines to restore Gulf 

(Washington, D.C.—September 14, 2011) A coalition of organizations supporting Gulf restoration says a new federal report revealing that BP, Transocean and Halliburton Co. made critical mistakes leading up to last year’s Gulf oil disaster reinforces the need for Congress to pass legislation to use the oil spill penalties for those mistakes to restore the Gulf.

National Wildlife Federation's Maura Wood examines oil in a Louisiana marsh. (Photo credit: NWF)

“The mistakes that these companies made damaged the ecosystems and economies of the Gulf region.  The penalties that they will pay for these errors should go directly to restoring the ecosystems and economies of the region, where the damage was done,” said a joint statement issued by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Ocean Conservancy and Oxfam America. “Leaders in Congress should take decisive action this year to make sure that any fines that are paid for the Gulf spill stay in the Gulf, and are not used for unrelated federal spending.”

A bipartisan coalition of Gulf Senators introduced the RESTORE Gulf Coast Act in July. The legislation seeks to ensure that 80 percent of the penalties paid under the Clean Water Act by the parties responsible for last year’s Gulf oil disaster are used to help restore the region’s communities,  ecosystems and economies, instead of going to unrelated federal spending.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to consider the bill shortly.

A bipartisan poll conducted this spring showed that 83 percent of voters nationwide support – and 69 percent strongly support – dedicating the Gulf oil spill penalties to restoring the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast. The poll also showed support among voters from across the political spectrum: