By Brian Moore, Legislative Director, National Audubon Society
Last Friday (July 6), President Obama signed into law the Surface Transportation Extension Act that included the RESTORE Act. This landmark legislation will direct 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the 2010 gulf oil spill to the Gulf Coast states to use for restoration. The House and Senate passed the bill on June 29.
This legislation is truly historic – the RESTORE Act is the single largest investment in environmental restoration ever made by the United States Congress. The Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign has been working on this legislation for more than two years, and its passage is a proud moment for everyone involved.
This giant step forward will provide as much as $20 billion in funds for gulf restoration and recovery. Here’s what it means for wildlife, habitat and people:
- Each of the five gulf states will have the financial capacity to begin and complete restoration projects that have been long planned but underfunded.
- Thousands of acres of lost habitat for birds and other wildlife in the region will be restored, repaired or replaced.
- Much needed reengineering of the Mississippi River Basin will get a kick start. This reengineering will ultimately allow the ecosystem to naturally rebuild itself and help reverse the decades of Louisiana coastal land loss.
- Restoration projects large and small will receive essential support.
We are thrilled to be delivering billions of dollars of desperately needed investment to one of America’s most biologically rich regions. Over the next months and years, our campaign will be working closely with the federal-state task force set up by the RESTORE Act to propose and implement restoration projects in Louisiana and across the entire Gulf Coast.
This is one of the greatest victories for conservation ever to come out of Congress in recent memory. We should all be proud of this achievement and excited to start the process of delivering on-the-ground conservation and restoration funding to the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast.