By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund
Thanks to the hard work of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House of Representatives passed an amendment yesterday that would dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the gulf oil spill to gulf restoration. The amendment, which passed by a voice vote on the transportation reauthorization bill, sets aside the expected penalties from BP and other responsible parties in a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund to be used solely for restoration. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Scalise and cosponsored by Reps. Richmond (D-La.), Landry (R-La.), Bonner (R-Ala.), Miller (R-Fla.), Palazzo (R-Miss.), Olson (R-Texas) and Southerland (R-Fla.). You can read Rep. Scalise's statement on the amendment’s passage here.
This is an important step towards ensuring fines from the spill are spent restoring the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast, and we thank all those individuals and organizations that helped push the RESTORE Act forward. We especially applaud Rep. Scalise for his continuing leadership on gulf restoration.
Now we need to build on this momentum in the Senate, urging Senators to expedite passage of the RESTORE Act, as approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in September. The bipartisan Senate bill would require that 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the oil spill are dedicated to gulf environmental and economic restoration.
Although much work remains to be done, passage of the Scalise amendment is a crucial step towards seeing the RESTORE Act passed and the gulf made whole again.