The U.S. Travel Association applauded adoption of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act by the U.S. Senate. The vote follows recent House approval of a similar amendment. The bipartisan approval of legislation that would dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) fines for the gulf oil disaster to restoring the gulf ecosystem and economy.
The RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act was originally introduced by nine of the 10 gulf state senators, including Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). The RESTORE Act passed as an amendment to the Senate transportation bill by a vote of 76 to 22 and now goes to committee.
The legislation provides critical economic help to states affected by the BP oil disaster, U.S.Travel says, including:
• Creates a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund;
• Dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties to be paid by BP and other responsible parties to the restoration of the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy;
• Provides needed resources to Gulf Coast States by establishing three mechanisms for allocating the funds available in each fiscal year and until the funds are expended;
• Establishes a Long Term Science and Fisheries Endowment and Gulf Coast Centers of Excellence, to which five percent of the funds would be allocated.
"The Gulf Coast demonstrated remarkable resilience in the wake of the BP oil spill," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "The Gulf is open for business, but there is still more that must be done. U.S. Travel applauds adoption of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act, and we urge members of Congress to preserve this important legislation in any conference committee on the MAP-21 Act."