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Rubio Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Restore Gulf Coast

Jul 25, 2011 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today joined Senators Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) to introduce legislation that calls for dedicating at least 80% of BP penalties paid under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to Gulf states to invest in the long-term health of the coastal ecosystem and its economies.  Joining this effort as original cosponsors of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 are Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).  Sen. Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has committed to taking up the bill in her committee as soon as possible.

The RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 will establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund to be made up of 80% of all civil penalties paid by BP or any other responsible party in connection with the Deepwater Horizon spill.   

“Last year’s Gulf oil spill devastated Florida’s tourism, fisheries and other related industries, and this legislation represents an important step to restore the economies and ecosystems in the Gulf,” Sen. Rubio said. “Redirecting the fine money paid by BP under the Clean Water Act is a logical policy that will help the states affected by this disaster continue rebuilding their businesses and lives.”

The bill will do the following:

  • Dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP to the restoration of the Gulf Coast
  • Provide needed resources to Gulf Coast States to start recovery immediately
  • Establish a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and a Comprehensive Plan for the Gulf Coast
  • Establish a Long Term Science and Fisheries Endowment and Gulf Coast Centers of Excellence

Last year, the Gulf Coast Restoration Task Force led by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus issued a report titled “America’s Gulf Coast,” for Congress to dedicate a significant amount of civil Clean Water Act penalties incurred by those responsible for the spill to the Gulf Coast.  And, earlier this year, National Oil Spill Commission’s report on the BP oil spill recommended that no less than 80% of the BP penalty money goes to Gulf Coast states for coastal and environmental restoration. 

The Clean Water Act allows the Environmental Protection Agency to collect $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled, or $4,300 per barrel if there is a finding of gross negligence, from any party found responsible for an oil spill in federal waters.  Based on the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, BP could face fines between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion.  Under current law, this money would go to the U.S. Treasury and the Gulf Coast would get nothing.