U.S. Sen. David Vitter today made the following comments after he spoke with officials from the office of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, whom the president has charged with developing the long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan. Mabus is expected to announce tomorrow the Obama Administration’s support for allocating BP’s Clean Water Act fines to restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast, along with the creation of a task force overseeing the ongoing coastal recovery work.
"I certainly welcome the administration asking Congress to dedicate the lion's share of BP fines to Gulf Coast recovery. That's very consistent with our delegation's 80 percent proposal.
“What concerns me, though, is this new entity in which each Gulf Coast state is equally represented. We certainly weren't equally hit by the oil. So I'll be fighting to ensure that the money follows the environmental impacts, which would push the great majority to Louisiana. The state Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act is already set in place; we don't need more task forces to develop a plan,” said Vitter.
Also, posted on lanewslinks.com, Vitter said, “We don’t need another commission that will take months and months to compile a report telling us what we already know, particularly if each state will be equally represented even though we weren’t equally affected by the oil,” said Vitter. “Through the existing Coastal Planning Act, we already have a good, fully developed plan. Now we need to fund it and execute it.”
“The report issued makes many of the same recommendations that I have been making since the oil spill began,” said Sen. Landrieu. “It is good to see that this Administration understands that to fulfill President Obama's promise to leave the Gulf Coast better than it was before the BP oil disaster, Gulf Coast states need a dedicated and robust stream of funding to restore and protect our coast for the long-term. I will continue to fight to pass the RESPOND Act and to lead our delegation’s efforts to achieve justice for the Gulf states that have been ravaged by several hurricanes and the largest oil spill in American history. The people of the region are strong and determined and we have fought back from every natural and manmade disaster, but in order for the Gulf Coast to thrive in the long term, we need the federal government to do its part.”
Relevant letters and documents from Sen. Landrieu:
For a full copy of the letter to the President, please visit:
For a full copy of Sen. Landrieu's policy brief on a new federal approach to restoring and protecting coastal Louisiana, please visit:
For a full copy of Sen. Landrieu's letter to Sec. Mabus, please visit: http://landrieu.senate.gov/mediacenter/upload/10.06.22_Letter.pdf
Today, U.S. Congressman Charlie Melancon (LA-03) commented on the Obama Administration’s recommendations for the long term recovery of the Gulf Coast region from the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In the report, the Administration adopts Congressman Melancon's approach to coastal funding by expanding on his amendment to dedicate BP penalty fees to coastal restoration projects. Congressman Melancon’s amendment was passed by the House of Representatives in July, as part of the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act (H.R. 3534).
“We have been saying for years that in order to really do coastal restoration right, we need a dedicated funding source,” Congressman Melancon said. “These projects are just too big and too expensive to nickel-and-dime year after year. The Mabus report acknowledges this and calls for the Gulf to receive the majority of the Clean Water Act penalties for coastal restoration.
“We know Congress must act, and the House has already shown it supports dedicating BP penalties to coastal restoration projects, having unanimously passed my amendment to do just that in July. Now, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force must take the years of research and work that we’ve done and move forward. Louisiana has already developed a coastal restoration master plan, and the Administration must not waste the next decade on more studies.
“I am pleased that the Mabus report recommends accelerating Coastal Impact Assistance Program dollars to the states for coastal restoration projects. I urge the Administration to also support moving up the start date for greater offshore revenue-sharing dollars to start flowing to energy-producing states. We need this influx of funding now, so Louisiana won’t have to wait until 2017 to begin seriously tackling coastal restoration.”
Congressman Melancon led the fight to dedicate BP penalties to coastal restoration projects in Louisiana with the passage in July of his amendment by the House of Representatives. The Melancon Coastal Restoration Amendment would create a new civil penalty for any oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico of more than 1 million barrels, including the BP disaster, and direct the funding to Gulf coastal restoration projects. In urging his colleagues to support the new penalty, Congressman Melancon argued that the environmental damage caused by the BP oil disaster will take decades for Louisiana to fully recover from. The Melancon amendment would hold BP accountable by law for repairing the destruction.
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal released the following statement regarding Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’s recommendations to use BP fines under the Clean Water Act to fund coastal restoration efforts:
“Investing the fines paid by BP and others to help restore our coast and build back our shores and marsh areas from the serious damage caused by the oil spill is a critical step in revitalizing coastal Louisiana, and we thank Secretary Mabus for his continued work toward this goal.
“We look forward to seeing the timelines and details of a ‘long-term plan to restore the beauty and bounty of this region’ as the President promised. Of course, as Louisiana sustained the brunt of damage from the spill, it is critically important that we receive the funds we need to restore and rebuild our coast as quickly as possible and we will prioritize that funding for coastal restoration projects.
“The recent oil spill disaster exacerbated our already fragile and deteriorating coastline, following the storms of Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. We need Congress to work quickly to not only invest these BP fines into restoring our coast, but also to help fund the 18 coastal restoration projects already authorized by Congress and to accelerate revenue sharing from Outer Continental Shelf leases, which will bring in $200 million to the state starting in 2017, so we can invest these funds into coastal restoration projects immediately. All of these components will be integral parts of our comprehensive effort to make coastal Louisiana whole again.”
Rep. Joseph Cao
“The largest share of the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund should come to Louisiana, because we suffered the greatest harm, both environmentally and economically. I will be pushing hard or an equitable distribution to make sure Louisiana gets its fair share.”
According to a press release by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, the report issued today makes the following recommendations:
• Congressional action to dedicate a significant amount of any obtained civil Clean Water Act penalties incurred to the Gulf Coast’s recovery.
• Dedication of a portion of any obtained Clean Water Act civil penalties directly to the Gulf States.
• Congressional action to create a Gulf Coast Recovery Council to manage the dedicated Clean Water Act funds. The Council should coordinate closely with the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) proceedings and should include representatives from the federal and state governments, and tribal organizations.
• Immediate appointment of a single federal lead for ecosystem restoration.
• Immediate creation of an administratively established Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to manage the transition from response to recovery. The Task Force would be an advisory body that would include representatives from federal, state, and tribal organizations and would act in direct coordination with the NRDA process. It would also act to coordinate non-NRDA ecosystem funds and projects. If the Recovery Council is established by Congress the Ecosystem Restoration Task Force could be modified or dissolved.
• Continuation of public health efforts.
• Continuation of the important economic recovery work.
• Support to nonprofit organizations working on the Gulf Coast.