The Nature Conservancy praised the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee for approving legislation today to restore a healthy and resilient Gulf of Mexico coast. Co-sponsored by senators from every Gulf state, including Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act (S. 1400) will ensure that fines from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are dedicated to restoring the communities, environment and economy of the Gulf of Mexico.
“Restoration is essential to the economic and environmental recovery of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Bob Bendick, The Nature Conservancy’s director of U.S. Government Relations. “Dedicating the oil spill penalties directly to the affected area will help repair the longstanding environmental damage to the Gulf, create new jobs and, just as importantly, sustain and restore the lands and waters that support local jobs in industries, such as tourism and fishing, industries that have long been the mainstay of Gulf communities.”
Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) authored the bill, which is co-sponsored by Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), David Vitter (R-LA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).
“All Floridians can be proud of Senators Nelson and Rubio for their bipartisan support of this legislation. They know that in the Gulf of Mexico region the health of the environment is directly linked to the health of the economy and community,” said Jennifer Conner Nelms, The Nature Conservancy’s Florida director of federal government relations.
In the Gulf, clean and healthy marshes, beaches and bays mean abundant fisheries, protection from storm surge and hurricanes, and a vibrant tourism economy. Vital commerce and industry and rich coastal and marine ecosystems have coexisted for generations in the Gulf. The economy of the United States as a whole is tightly linked to the energy, shipping, and other industries that operate here.
A bipartisan poll this spring showed that 83 percent of voters nationwide support dedicating the Gulf oil spill penalties to restoring the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast. The poll also showed that the vast majority of voters recognize the Gulf Coast’s impact on the economy of the entire United States.
“Without this legislation, the fines from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could be spent anywhere -- meaning the people and the communities of the Gulf Coast region who suffered from the spill could get absolutely no assistance from the fines,” said Bendick. “While today's vote is a great step forward, there is still much work to be done to ensure the RESTORE Act becomes law. Too much time has already passed. We must act now to rebuild the Gulf and ensure it continues to support our nation's economy, communities and wildlife.”
The Nature Conservancy looks forward to working with the Gulf delegation, other members of Congress and the administration to pass a bill that will protect and restore this national treasure for future generations.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.