Washington, D.C. — Today, by a vote of 76-22, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment offered by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Richard Shelby (R-AL) to include the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act as part of the surface transportation bill and establish a National Endowment for the Oceans. Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
Today’s Senate action, the RESTORE Act, sends a strong statement that there may yet be a chance for something positive to come out of the 2010 BP oil catastrophe. This funding will give Gulf communities the chance to undo some of the decades of degradation of their natural resources as a result of the devastating spill and decades of ongoing offshore oil and gas development.
Dedicating 80 percent of BP’s Clean Water Act fines to the Gulf was a keystone recommendation of “Beyond Recovery,” a 2011 report from the Center for American Progress and Oxfam America. In addition to the environmental benefits that will flow from restoring degraded wetlands and ocean areas, these funds will spur needed economic growth in the region, helping the Gulf Coast to develop a new source of employment in the coastal restoration industry.
Furthermore, this amendment includes the framework for establishing a National Endowment for the Oceans, an off-budget endowment fund seeded with half the interest accrued from these fines, and paying out its own interest annually to all coastal states to fund their ocean and coastal priorities. Final passage of a law establishing the National Endowment for the Oceans would be a true legacy accomplishment, and anyone who cares about our ocean and coastal resources owes a debt of gratitude to Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) for their leadership on this landmark program.
To speak with Michael Conathan, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.