BP OIL DISASTER

RESTORE Act Passes with National Endowment for Oceans

Major win for the Gulf and all of America’s Coasts

Media contact:
Tim McHugh, Media Relations Manager
Telephone: (202) 351-0492
Email: tmchugh@oceanconservancy.org

March 8, 2012

Washington, DC - Ocean Conservancy praises the Senate for passing the RESTORE Act, including the National Endowment for the Oceans, as an amendment to the Transportation bill so that the work of restoring the Gulf can begin. Below is a statement from Chris Dorsett, Director of Ocean Conservancy's Fish Conservation and Gulf Restoration Program:

"Passing this important amendment is a big win for the environment and our oceans. The RESTORE Act will direct funding toward the places where it's needed most -- to execute a comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan and to ensure the future health of the birds, dolphins, sea turtles, fish and, of course, the local communities that greatly depend on our oceans.


"The RESTORE Act is simply about fairness for the Gulf. We are only at the end of the beginning of restoration. We don't know the full impact of the BP oil disaster yet. What we do know is troubling for the Gulf and that these resources are urgently needed. Our ability to protect our coasts, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico will take a huge step forward with this bill.

"As both Ocean Conservancy and the President's bipartisan Oil Spill Commission recommended, this bill directs 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines paid by BP and other parties responsible for last year's oil disaster to strengthening and restoring the health of the Gulf region. Currently under the law, Clean Water Act fines would go to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and be applied to future oil spills instead of restoration of the affected region.

"We are particularly pleased to see the inclusion of the National Endowment for the Ocean. Using a portion of the interest from BP's fines is a fair and reasonable way to fund the work to protect ocean health, and ultimately economic health. While the vast majority of the fines the responsible parties must pay will be rightly directed to the Gulf Coast region, this program will promote the environmental and economic prosperity of all of America's coastal waters and Great Lakes.

"Ocean Conservancy is very glad to see that the RESTORE Act would establish an endowment to support a long-term research and monitoring program so that we can better understand changes in the ecosystem and develop management solutions that keep the Gulf environment and economy healthy. A well-funded and robust science program will also support the design, selection and evaluation of restoration projects, ensuring financial resources are used wisely, and provide for adaptation of future management approaches as new information becomes available.

"We urge the House and Senate to move as quickly as possible toward a final bill that includes the RESTORE Act as passed in the Senate. Once this bill is passed it will be crucial that the money is spent wisely and in the spirit it was intended. We must all keep in mind that this is happening because of a catastrophic oil disaster, and the anticipated funds will be generated because those responsible are being held accountable."

Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Ocean Conservancy brings people together to find solutions for our water planet. Informed by science, our work guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and its wildlife for future generations.

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