In “Making Land” (Summer 2012), Hal Herring reported that the RESTORE Act, which would dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the Gulf oil spill to restoration efforts on the Gulf coast, was still pending in Congress.
Now the restoration boon is much closer to becoming reality. Congress approved the RESTORE Act on June 30, and President Obama signed it into law on July 6. While the exact amount of the fine levied on BP has yet to be finalized, the amount is expected to be between $5 billion and $20 billion.
Without the law, the fines would have gone straight to the U.S. Treasury. Under the new legislation, approximately two-thirds of the funds will be dedicated to environmental and economic restoration in the states most impacted by the spill—Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Five percent will go toward a fish-stock monitoring program and research centers. The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (consisting of federal officials and the Gulf states’ governors) will direct the remainder of the funds to large-scale ecological projects with broad impact.