U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., celebrated the passage of the act on Monday at Prien Lake Park — part of a five-stop coastal Louisiana tour. (Lance Traweek / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 3:25 PMThe RESTORE Act, which will allocate 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP to the restoration of the Gulf Coast, was passed by the Senate and House last week, and it was signed into law Friday by President Obama.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., celebrated the passage of the act on Monday at Prien Lake Park — part of a five-stop coastal Louisiana tour.
The Clean Water Act lets the Environmental Protection Agency collect $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled in federal waters, or $4,300 per barrel if there is a ruling of “gross negligence,” according to Landrieu. Landrieu and other congressional delegates are calling the RESTORE Act “justice for the Gulf Coast.”
Based on the 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico, BP could face fines between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion. Without the RESTORE Act, this penalty money would have gone to the U.S. Treasury and the Gulf Coast would have received none of it.
Landrieu said as soon as the case goes to trial, the Gulf Coast will know the full amount of fines that will be divided between the five Gulf Coast states. Louisiana will receive somewhere between $3-$5 billion, which Landrieu said will be a down payment on one of the most ambitious environmental and civil works projects ever conceived in the history of the United States.
“This coast cannot be saved with nickels and dimes,” Landrieu said Monday. “This coast cannot be saved with legislators running down to Baton Rouge asking for $10 million here or $15 million there. That is a losing strategy, and one that I will not be a part of. We have to have a real plan that can really save the coast and will have a lot of money behind it — that has the best science in the world behind it.”
The RESTORE Act will also establish a Gulf Coast Ecosytem Restoration Council and a comprehensive plan for the Gulf Coast and will provide funds for Gulf Coast research, science and technology.
“It is saving Louisiana’s wetlands and America’s wetlands,” Landrieu said. “We’re going to do it with our scientists who are designing it, our engineers who are going to build it, and it’s our children and families that will benefit from it for decades to come.”
Landrieu said Southwest Louisiana should be persistent in saving its estuaries and marshes.
“There is money that will go directly to Calcasieu and Cameron parish that they can use of their choice within the guidelines. The effort has been well under way in Southeast Louisiana for some time,” Landrieu said after her speech. “Southwest Louisiana needs to get very engaged and very focused on how to save Holly Beach. It will be exciting for people of Southwest Louisiana to join the effort under way already in Southeast Louisiana, so they whole coast is covered.”
David Richard, who is with Stream Property Management and Stream Wetland Services in Lake Charles, said he went to Washington, D.C., to lobby for the RESTORE Act. He said he is very happy the law is in effect.
“Over 500 non-governmental organizations signed on to support the RESTORE Act,” he said. “The RESTORE Act happened because it has been recognized as a national problem.”