All Eyes on the SenateLast week, pelicans and other wildlife in the Gulf got some promising news when the House of Representatives passed an amendment dedicating 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the BP oil spill to Gulf restoration.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Scalise (R-LA), sets aside most of the money from the expected oil spill penalties into a trust fund.
The House’s move sets up the Senate to pass the RESTORE Act, which will also direct oil spill penalty money to the Gulf for restoration. The RESTORE Act is not in conflict with the House amendment but has more specific language directing how this money should be used.
The Senate needs to act soon. BP, whose total liability claims clock in at around $71 billion, is furiously working on a settlement deal with the U.S. Department of Justice.
If a settlement is reached before the RESTORE Act is passed, money from BP’s fines could go straight into the Treasury. That’s not right.
The Gulf oil spill was the largest accidental marine oil spill in history—and Gulf wildlife are still struggling in its aftermath. Money from the oil spill penalties should not be a windfall for the Treasury but should be used to restore the Gulf.