RESTORE Act passed to fund Gulf Coast recovery
As part of the massive transportation bill passed Friday, Congress passed the RESTORE Act, or Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economics of the Gulf Coast States Act, which brings relief to shorelines and deep water habitats affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The RESTORE Act will send 80 percent of as much as $21 million in fines eventually collected from BP to five Gulf Coast states to restore and protect natural resources and ecosystems affected by the oil spill.
The Gulf Coast Restoration Council, which will consist of a state official from each Gulf Coast state, will receive 60 percent of the allocated funds. The council will subsequently allocate half of the funds to states based on impact. The other half will be used to develop a “comprehensive plan” to support projects and programs that restore and protect different parts of the Gulf Coast ecosystem.
Thirty-five percent of available funds would be allocated equally to the five Gulf Coast states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida) for environmental and economic restoration.
The remaining five percent will go to a Gulf Coast research, science and technology program.
A two-year extension for the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund also passed as part of the transportation bill on Friday.