It will be two years in April since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Louisiana Gulf Coast. A federal case, which is really hundreds of combined lawsuits, is scheduled to start on February 27 in New Orleans. Given the upcoming anniversary and the pending court case, it’s only fitting that last week the House voted to include the RESTORE amendment to the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, better known as the transportation bill.
What is RESTORE? It stands for Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunity, and Revived Economies, and it would create a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. A total of 80 percent of the Clean Water Act oil spill fines, which could reach $20 billion, would go towards the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.
The House passed the RESTORE amendment on February 15 with a 266 to 159 vote. A group of Republican House members from the Gulf Coast led the fight for the amendment, including Rep. Steve Palazzo (MS), Steve Scalise (LA) and Peter Olson (TX). There’s a separate bill, the RESTORE Act, which hasn’t yet come up for a vote.
“This amendment is a huge first step, and it will be the first time either house of Congress votes on bringing oil spill fines back to the Gulf Coast states,” Palazzo said.
Scalise said, “This is a really important milestone. We feel like we’ve got a real opportunity to get this passed and get this fund in place.”
Another Republican from the Gulf Coast, Rep. Jo Bonner (AL) announced his support for the RESTORE Act and praised the RESTORE amendment. Bonner said, “While not the end of our efforts to make the Gulf Coast whole after the BP—Deepwater Horizon oil spill nearly two years ago, the amendment before the House today is the first vote taken in either the House or Senate to create the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and is an important step forward.”
Bonner added that by passing the RESTORE amendment, “the House today sent a signal to the Justice and Treasury Departments that the House of Representatives agrees that 80 percent of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill fines should be reserved in a trust fund for Gulf Coast restoration.”
The Senate still has to pass the amendment in order for it to be included in the bill. Do something to urge the Senate to include the amendment: Sign the petition to help Brown Pelicans in the Gulf.
Photo credit: Flickr user, ellenm1