A recent poll found that 84 percent of Florida voters and 92 percent of Panhandle voters support a bill approved by a Senate committee that would ensure the BP oil spill fines are spent on Gulf restoration.
The telephone poll, conducted by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s pollster, Hamilton Campaigns, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s pollster, Ayres McHenry & Associates, also showed 75 percent of Florida voters and 82 percent of Panhandle voters are more likely to support candidates who back the legislation.
“Voters haven’t forgotten the BP oil spill was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history because our ecosystem and economy are still recovering from it a year-and-a-half later,” said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. ”They recognize that the BP oil spill fines would dramatically accelerate our recovery.”
This ongoing recovery must come as a shock to BP, which recently sponsored this nauseating television commercial boasting that 2011 was the Gulf’s best tourism season in years, and encouraging people to make it their winter vacation destination.
The poll is timely because last Monday, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force issued its final report, recommending that Congress ensure that a “significant portion” of the BP oil spill fines go to restoring the Gulf. In late September, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act, (S. 1400), co-authored by Senators Nelson and Rubio. It would dedicate 80 percent of the estimated $5-$21 billion in expected fines for the BP oil spill to restoring the Gulf ecosystem and economy.
However, if Congress fails to pass the RESTORE Act, the spill fines will be used for unrelated federal spending or to reduce the federal deficit. The poll showed that voters favored using the oil spill fines for Gulf Coast restoration instead of reducing the deficit by nearly a 7-1 margin: 79 percent to 12 percent.
Duke University also released a report last Monday concluding the Gulf oil spill fines could kick start the launch of a long-term investment in ecosystem restoration and create jobs that would benefit at least 140 businesses with nearly 400 employee locations in 37 states, including nearly 60 in Florida.
“Members of Congress from both parties have an opportunity to put aside their differences and pass this bipartisan bill–which doesn’t spend any taxpayer funds–and has huge public support,” said Michael L. Davis, Vice President and Principal, Keith and Schnars, P.A., an environmental, planning and engineering consulting firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville , and Doral, Florida . “The RESTORE Act will help right the wrong of the BP oil disaster by funding restoration projects that will trigger a value added chain that goes far beyond planning and design firms like mine, benefiting contractors and equipment manufactures as well.”
Image Credit: Flickr – jimgreenhill