On March 8, the U.S. Senate showed its commitment to restoring the Gulf of Mexico’s economy and environment by approving the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act as an amendment to the Senate transportation bill. This historic achievement was made possible in large part to the support of thousands of anglers who showed their support through the website www.KeepAmericaFishing.org.
However, the work is not yet done. The RESTORE Act must next make it through the U.S. House of Representatives. Introduced by senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the RESTORE amendment represents extraordinary bipartisan consensus among lawmakers and is a crucial measure that ensures that 80 percent of the funds from the Clean Water Act and other penalties assessed in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are used to pay for economic and environmental restoration projects in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Senator Nelson added the provision in RESTORE that establishes a research, science and technology program aimed at improving Gulf fisheries management and monitoring. This legislation only directs funding from the Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP for the disaster and does not direct any new federal spending.
This amendment also includes a major, much needed increase in funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The fund provides money to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water to benefit conservation and recreation. The provision would double current funding levels for the fund to $700 million for each of the next two years and reauthorize it until 2022, for a total of $1.4 billion. The amendment requires that 1.5 percent of those funds be used to improve hunting and fishing access on existing public lands.
Taken together, if the transportation bill with the RESTORE amendment attached should win final passage, these two doses of conservation funding would represent, by some estimates, the largest boost in conservation funding in American history!
Your Help Is Still Needed!
Take action today to make sure that this historic legislation for sportsmen and women crosses the finish line! Send a message to your Members of Congress in support of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act as approved by the Senate and do your part to help restore this sportfishing paradise.