Bill to Restore Gulf Coast with BP Oil Spill Fines Passes Senate CommitteeBy Rhonda Miller | Published 21 Sep 2011 10:48pm |
The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a bill Wednesday that could bring billions of dollars to Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the money is from fines BP will pay for damage from last year’s oil spill.
Dixie Alexander walks in Long Beach six mornings a week. She’s not sure of every detail of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011. But since Mississippi Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker co-sponsored the bill, she figures it’s a good idea.
"Both of them have the interests, of course, for our coastline here in Mississippi and they know everything there is to know, so I would trust whatever their opinion is on the matter," Alexander says.
The bill requires 80 percent of fines BP will pay for oil spill damage to come back to the Gulf Coast states. Wicker says he hopes, and expects, the bill will be passed into law relatively soon.
"Oftentimes the money gets authorized and appropriated and still has to trickle through the chain. But knowing that it’s there is going to mean a lot, it will allow us to plan," Wicker says.
A lot of restoration from the oil spill been done, but Cochran says it’s just the beginning.
"The oil spill was something that has had more, I think, serious effects than we fully understand right now. It will take some time before we can complete an assessment of that," Cochran says.
Gulf Islands Conservancy President Terese Collins says the committee approval is only the first step.
"We need the bill to successfully pass the Senate and the House, before finding its way to the President’s desk," Collins said. "So it’s really critical now that we get this bill passed and we see these monies come back to the coast, to the Gulf Coast, for the restoration of our ecosystem and our economy."
If the bill becomes law, estimates are between $5 and $20 billion dollars could be split among Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.
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