RESTORE Act an important step for Gulf Coast

Published 6:20 am Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friday’s passing of the RESTORE Act by Congress is good news for Alabama.

The act earmarks 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines from BP and other parties deemed responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to restoring Alabama and the Gulf Coast’s environment and economy.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., co-authored the legislation and pushed hard to have the fines from the spill directed not to the U.S. Treasury, but directly to those communities affected by the spill.

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“Central to this legislation is that impacted communities will not only receive this money directly, but also control how it is spent,” Shelby said in a release.

By directing the funds to the communities, the federal government ensures that those who are most effective – and therefore best able to determine local needs – have both the means and the authority to use the funds as necessary to restore coastlands and wetlands.

The 2010 Horizon spill dealt a significant blow to the coastal communities and the environment. From the fishermen and shrimpers whose source of income was taken away to the loss of tourism dollars along the Alabama and Florida coasts, the economic impact was devastating. Add to that the environmental impact – which will continue to unfold for years to come – and the true costs of the disaster are almost impossible to quantify

The RESTORE Act is an important step in restoring our gulf communities and their economies.