Oxfam hails progress on Gulf restoration

By jforres

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WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 – International relief and development organization Oxfam America joined a number of Gulf Coast restoration advocacy groups to laud the inclusion of the RESTORE Act in yesterday's House-passed Surface Transportation Extension Act. Both the House and Senate have now passed versions of the RESTORE Act, which would dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines from BP and the other parties responsible for the Gulf oil spill to restoring the Gulf Coast. This Friday, April 20th, marks the second anniversary of the start of the Gulf oil spill, the worst environmental disaster in American history.

“We thank Rep. Steve Scalise, the Gulf delegation and the leadership of both the House and Senate for making Gulf restoration such a high priority. The time has come to make good on promises to restore the environments of the Gulf region and the communities and economies that rely them,” said a joint statement issued by Oxfam America along with Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and Ocean Conservancy. “Now we look forward to getting the bill across the finish line in conference, and the President signing RESTORE into law with the final transportation bill.”

The amendment, called the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act, is similar to historic legislation that the full Senate passed last month with strong bipartisan support from 76 senators.

“Oxfam looks forward to working with the people in the hard-hit communities along the Gulf Coast to make best use of these funds to do real restoration work,” said Minor Sinclair, Director, US Regional Office, Oxfam America. “We believe the money can help bring back the vitality of the environment and the economy, put people back to work, and make the communities more resilient. We thank everyone who moved this Act along.”

The Senate's version of the RESTORE Act will ensure that penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster are used to rebuild the economies of Gulf Coast communities that were impacted by the spill and to restore the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, barrier islands, dunes and coastal wetlands that are the foundation of the Gulf Coast economy.

A nationwide poll of 1,006 likely general election voters conducted by a Democratic firm, Lake Research Partners, and a GOP firm, Bellwether Research and Consulting, showed that the vast majority of U.S. voters (84 percent) believe the Gulf Coast—including the Mississippi River Delta—impacts the nation's economy. Nearly two-thirds of those voters (63 percent) believe this region impacts the economy in their part of the country.