Citizen Efforts Across the Coast Made a Real Difference.
The U.S. Senate and House both passed the transportation conference committee report by wide margins today (June 29), sending the bill for President Obama’s signature. The committee report requires that 80 percent of fines for violations of the Clean Water Act as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will go to a trust fund for Gulf Coast states damaged by the spill.
“Thanks go to our dedicated supporters across the Gulf Coast, who nagged and badgered members of Congress time and again – and asked family and friends across the nation to do the same,” said Women of the Storm founder Anne Milling. “You made your voices heard.”
Milling also thanked Gulf Coast senators and representatives whose strong support carried the RESTORE Act across the finish line.
Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who introduced the measure in the Senate, said the billions in funding will "jump-start real and lasting restoration" on the Gulf Coast. Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter added, "We (got) everything we wanted for the Gulf, so that's a huge win. People recognize that that disaster was literally on our shores and had a huge negative impact there."
"Great news for Gulf Coast," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who introduced the measure in the House, called its inclusion in the transportation bill "a major milestone as we work to ensure the full recovery of the Gulf Coast states from the Deepwater Horizon disaster."
“There is little question that the impact of the April 2010 oil spill will be felt along our shores and in our coastal communities for years to come. However, the RESTORE Act offers the potential for renewed economic prosperity and environmental restoration to offset the regional losses we have suffered," said Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile.
"Central to this legislation is that impacted communities will not only receive this money directly, but also control how it is spent through local, accountable officials and a transparent process," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
"I believe that those on the front lines of the oil spill know best how to allocate this money to meet their needs. It is my hope that strong civic participation will lead to a robust process that will revive the Alabama Gulf Coast for decades to come."
Money from the fines could create as many as 57,000 jobs over 10 years along the Gulf Coast. Most would be in the transportation, trade and utilities industries, the report found.
"The funding that is going to be coming down the pike for coastal restoration is first and foremost about repairing damages to the coast, but in the course of doing so it's actually creating economic opportunity, it's creating jobs," said Robin Barnes, executive vice president of Greater New Orleans, a regional economic development group in Southeast Louisiana who released the job-creation report. "These are good-paying jobs," Barnes said.
More than 140 members of Women of the Storm, a non-partisan grassroots coalition of activist women across the Gulf Coast, traveled to Washington DC on March 29 to urge Congress, the Administration and others to return to the Gulf Coast 80% of penalty dollars that may be assessed following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Our position has received with editorial and public support, as well as from the federal bipartisan Oil Spill Commission. If the U.S. senators and governors from the five states do not unite around this issue, the dollars are likely to flow directly into the federal treasury, with Gulf Coast restoration receiving no direct benefit.
Founded in January, 2006, Women of the Storm is a non‐partisan grassroots alliance of Louisiana women whose families, businesses and lives were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The group expanded its participation across the Gulf Coast in 2011, with the addition of women from Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Members, who are culturally, socially and economically diverse, are bound by their passion for their communities. Women of the Storm draws the attention of Congress, policymakers, media and opinion leaders who set the national agenda to the needs of the entire Gulf Coast – and how the region’s recovery has a direct impact on every state. The organization seeks to demonstrate to national leaders the strong and deep support across America for the essential funding of Gulf Coast restoration.
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