Archive for Senator David Vitter


Groups Commend Louisiana Congressional Supporters on Passage of RESTORE Act

June 29, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, BP Oil Disaster, Clean Water Act, Congress, Media Resources, RESTORE Act, Senator David Vitter, Senator Mary Landrieu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Chris Macaluso, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, 225.802.4048, chris@lawildlifefed.org
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, eskree@edf.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, guidrye@nwf.org
Karen Gautreaux, The Nature Conservancy, 225.788.4525, kgautreaux@tnc.org
Kevin Chandler, National Audubon Society, 202.596.0960, kchandler@audubon.org
Scott Madere, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.767.4181, scottm@crcl.org

GROUPS COMMEND LOUISIANA CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORTERS ON PASSAGE OF RESTORE ACT

Legislation restoring Gulf Coast ecosystems and economy included in Transportation Bill

(Baton Rouge, La. – June 29, 2012) Today, local and national conservation groups praised the passage of the Surface Transportation Extension Act that includes the RESTORE Act, a measure that will dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from BP and other parties responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to restoring the Gulf Coast environment and economy. In praising the RESTORE Act, the groups also encouraged the federal government and the State of Louisiana to ensure the fines are spent on the coastal projects laid out in the state’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan.

“We applaud the leaders from both houses whose tireless efforts have seen the RESTORE Act to this point, especially Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and Representatives Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond,” said the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy in a joint statement

“The BP oil disaster devastated an already degraded coastal region, one that is suffering from a decades-long coastal land loss crisis. Fortunately, through Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, we have the solutions in hand to repair ecosystems, increase resiliency and ensure the long-term sustainability of coastal communities. We encourage state and federal officials to do the right thing and ensure RESTORE Act funds go towards jumpstarting the critical restoration projects needed to ensure our coast’s survival.”

Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost more than 1,900 square miles of wetlands, an area roughly equivalent in size to the state of Delaware. A recent study by researchers at the University of Florida shows that the BP oil disaster accelerated land loss by killing the marsh grasses that hold the marsh together, doubling the rate of erosion in some areas.

Over the decades, the decline of the Mississippi River Delta’s wetlands has dramatically impaired protection from hurricanes and wiped out much of the buffer against future storms and disasters. The loss of wetlands also threatens:

  • One of our nation’s most important fisheries
  • One of our nation’s most significant port complexes and navigation systems
  • Wildlife, including tens of millions of migratory birds and waterfowl
  • Domestic energy production and processing
  • Communities all along the central Gulf Coast

Earlier this year, the Louisiana State Legislature unanimously approved the 2012 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, a 50-year blueprint for restoring Louisiana’s rapidly disappearing coastal wetlands and protecting the state’s natural resources and communities. Funding from the RESTORE Act could be used to implement Coastal Master Plan projects, which is expected to cost $50 billion over the next fifty years. A study by Mather Economics also demonstrates the potential job benefits of using RESTORE Act fines for restoration. The study estimates that a $25 billion investment could create as many as 57,000 jobs through restoration.

Without the RESTORE Act, fines from the spill would automatically be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to cover future spills elsewhere and into the Federal Treasury for unspecified general spending. With today’s vote and the President’s signature, this measure will ensure that Louisiana and the other Gulf Coast states struck by this historic disaster receive the funding necessary to make a full recovery.

“The RESTORE Act will not just help restore Louisiana’s ecosystems – the restoration projects it funds will also create new jobs and boost the state’s economy. This is a win-win for coastal communities along the delta,” the statement continued. “We look forward to working with the State and Administration to make sure these funds are used to revive the critical ecosystems and local economies that our nation depends on.”

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Gulf Senators Praised for Cosponsoring Bill to Restore Gulf

July 21, 2011 | Posted by Ryan Rastegar in BP Oil Disaster, Clean Water Act, Congress, Federal Policy, Media Resources, Senator David Vitter, Senator Mary Landrieu

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Contacts:

Sean Crowley, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.572.3331, scrowley@edf.org
David J. Ringer, National Audubon Society, 601.642.7058, dringer@audubon.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, guidrye@nwf.org
Sandra Rodriguez, The Nature Conservancy, 703.841.4227, srodriguez@tnc.org
David Willett, Ocean Conservancy, 202.351.0465, dwillett@oceanconservancy.org
Patrick Scully, Oxfam America, 617.728.2402, pscully@oxfamamerica.org

Gulf Senators Praised for Cosponsoring Bill to Restore Gulf

Bill dedicates oil spill fines to restore Gulf communities, economies & ecosystems

(Washington, D.C.—July 21, 2011) A coalition of organizations supporting Gulf restoration celebrated news today that a bipartisan coalition of Gulf senators is cosponsoring the RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act. The legislation seeks to ensure that penalties paid by BP and others responsible for last year’s Gulf oil disaster are used to help restore the region’s communities, economies and environments instead of going to unrelated federal spending.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) are the original cosponsors of the bill, and are now joined by Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kay Bailey-Hutchison (R-TX). Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who was instrumental in securing the agreement among the senators, has pledged to consider this bill in her committee quickly.

“The damage from the oil spill was done in the Gulf, so Congress should ensure that oil spill fines go to the Gulf, not to unrelated federal spending,” reads a joint statement issued by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy and Oxfam America. “This Gulf state agreement paves the way for Congress to do what voters expect: hold the parties responsible for the Gulf oil disaster accountable for restoring the Gulf because our nation’s economy depends on a healthy Gulf region.”

A bipartisan poll conducted this spring showed that 83 percent of voters nationwide support – and 69 percent strongly support – dedicating the Gulf oil spill penalties to restoring the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast. The poll also showed support among voters from across the political spectrum:

  • 90 percent of Democrats
  • 84 percent of independents
  • 76 percent of Republicans
  • 78 percent of those who say they agree with the Tea Party movement

Nearly 500 miles – almost half – of the coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida that was contaminated by the Gulf oil disaster remains oiled one year later, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.

“There is much more work to be done to ensure that a strong and effective restoration bill for the Gulf ultimately becomes law and this is a positive and commendable first step. We look forward to working with the Gulf delegation, other members of Congress and the administration on passage of a bill that meets the restoration needs of this critical ecosystem and its vulnerable communities,” the statement concludes.

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On BP Oil Disaster Anniversary, Groups Urge Congress to Use Fines to Restore Gulf Environment and Economy

April 20, 2011 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Clean Water Act, Congress, Meetings/Events, Senator David Vitter, Senator Mary Landrieu

An oil-soaked brown pelican washes ashore on Grand Isle, Louisiana (May 21, 2010). Photo credit: Yuki Kokubo, www.yukikokubo.net

On the first anniversary of the BP oil well blowout, regional and national leaders urged Congress to hold BP accountable by passing legislation to dedicate BP’s Clean Water Act (CWA) fines to restoring the Gulf’s damaged environment and economy.

Under current law, fines paid by BP and others responsible for the spill automatically will be deposited into the Federal Treasury, instead of being used to help restore the Gulf region.

U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and David Vitter (R-La.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) have introduced four separate bills that would dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines to restore the Gulf Coast’s environment and economy.

“These members of Congress deserve credit for recognizing that BP’s fines for the oil spill should be invested in restoring the Gulf, where the damage was done, not in the Federal Treasury,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.  “The environment and economy of the Gulf region rely on each other to be strong and vibrant.  We’re calling on leaders in Congress, particularly from the Gulf region, to get together and get restoration done for the Gulf.”

The anniversary event featured a boat tour to show oil spill damage in Barataria Bay and Bay Jimmy and aerial tours of Wax Lake Delta, which shows that rebuilding wetlands is possible.  The Wax Lake Delta is the unexpected creation of a 1941 flood control project in which the Army Corps of Engineers dug a canal to Atchafalaya Bay from the Atchafalaya River.  As a result, the Atchafalaya River sediment built 25 square miles of new land in the Wax Lake Outlet.

“The Gulf is injured certainly, and will be for some time, but it is not without the possibility of recovery in the long term” said Chris Canfield, vice president of Gulf Coast Conservation and the Mississippi Flyway for the National Audubon Society.  “If we can marshal the energy of fear and concern we all felt a year ago and turn it into resolve – into a Congressional mandate for Gulf restoration – we can do wonders.”

Nearly nine out of 10 poll respondents (87%) across the five Gulf states agree that the environmental health of the Gulf Coast region affects their state’s economy very much or somewhat.  (Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research and Consulting)

“Without a strong and shared vision by our regional congressional delegations to dedicate fines to the Gulf Coast states, fine monies will wash away into the Federal Treasury,” said Anne Milling, founder of Women of the Storm.  "We thank Representatives Scalise and Castor and Senators Landrieu, Vitter and Nelson for their bipartisan unity on this crucial issue, and we encourage other members of Congress to follow their example."

Environmental degradation has caused tremendous damage to the Gulf ecosystems in recent decades.  The region has lost nearly 50 percent of its wetlands, 60 percent of its sea grass beds, 50 percent of its oyster reefs, and more than 32 percent of its mangrove forests.  (The Nature Conservancy)

“Given our huge budget deficit, Clean Water Act fines are the most viable, short-term funding mechanism for the long-term restoration of the Gulf Coast that President Obama promised ten months ago ‘to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region’,” said Paul Harrison, senior director of the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Project for Environmental Defense Fund.  “Congress must hold BP accountable for the environmental and economic damage it caused from the worst oil spill in U.S. history by dedicating the Clean Water Act fines to Gulf Coast restoration and ensuring BP pays the bill for the Natural Resources Damage Assessment.”

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    As BP Oil Spill Anniversary Looms, Gulf Restoration Groups Laud Introduction of RESTORE Act

    April 15, 2011 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in BP Oil Disaster, Clean Water Act, Congress, Senator David Vitter, Senator Mary Landrieu

    A coalition of environmental, economic and social equity organizations yesterday praised the Senate introduction of a bipartisan bill to ensure that 80 percent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) penalties to be paid by BP and others responsible for last year’s Gulf oil disaster will be used to restore the communities, economies and ecosystems of the Gulf region directly.  Under current law, BP penalties for the oil spill will be deposited into the federal treasury instead of being used to help the people, environments and economies that suffered harm in the disaster.

    The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunity, and Revived Economies of the Gulf States Act of 2011 (RESTORE Act) was introduced yesterday — six days before the BP oil disaster anniversary next Wednesday (April 20) — by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and David Vitter (R-LA).

    “The BP oil disaster was the latest assault in a long series of injuries to the environment and economy of the five Gulf states.  Fines paid by BP and other parties responsible for this disaster belong in the Gulf, to help restore the environments and economies that were directly harmed,” said the joint statement by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Ocean Conservancy, Oxfam America, and The Nature Conservancy.

    “We thank Senators Landrieu and Vitter for their leadership and for bringing Congress an important step closer to action in the Gulf.  We look forward to working with the entire Gulf Senate delegation to make sure that these fines help the communities and environments that need restoration.”

    The Gulf region is a vital part of the nation’s economy, and critical Gulf industries rely on environmental restoration:

    • The Gulf currently supports a $34 billion per year tourism industry, and its fisheries support an estimated $22.6 billion dollars in seafood and commercial and recreational fishing-related activity. (Center for American Progress)
    • The region is home to 10 of our nation’s 15 largest ports by tonnage.  More than 25 percent of the nation's waterborne exports pass through Louisiana ports alone. (National Marine Fisheries Service)
    • Environmental degradation has caused tremendous damage to the Gulf ecosystems in recent decades.  The region has lost nearly 50 percent of its wetlands, 60 percent of its sea grass beds, 50 percent of its oyster reefs, and more than 32 percent of its mangrove forests. (The Nature Conservancy)
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