Vanishing Paradise — an effort by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to unite sportsmen and women on the important issue of Mississippi River Delta restoration — praised the Senate this March for its strong bipartisan approval of legislation that would dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) fines for the gulf oil disaster to restoring the gulf ecosystem and economy. The RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act was originally introduced by nine of the 10 gulf state senators, including Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and was also supported by Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Boxer. The RESTORE Act passed as an amendment to the Senate transportation bill by a vote of 76 to 22.
“Today, the Senate has taken a big step to make the coast of Louisiana whole again. We still haven’t brought this over the finish line, but a thunderous chorus of duck and goose wing beats and the tails of redfish can be heard spurring us on. This is our time and our conservation issue. Coupling the RESTORE Act with two years of significant funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund — a measure that ensures public access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities across America — is a great day for anyone who hunts or fishes,” said Land Tawney, National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for sportsmen leadership after the vote passed.
“The damage was done in the Gulf, and that’s where the penalty money from the spill belongs. It’s only fair that the fines come back to the area to help repair damage to the environment and the economy,” Tawney continued.
The legislation will ensure that penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster are used to rebuild the economies of Gulf Coast communities that were impacted by the spill and to restore the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, barrier islands, dunes, coastal wetlands, that are the foundation of the Gulf Coast economy.
The Senate’s approval of the RESTORE Act follows the House’s recent approval of an amendment by the same name introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Both the House and Senate bills affirm the principle that the penalties for the Gulf oil spill belong in the Gulf for restoration.
“Now we need the House and the Senate to work out the differences between these two amendments in conference and enact RESTORE into law to bring this victory home for the people, wildlife and habitat of the Gulf region,” Tawney concluded. “We look forward to working with House, Senate and Gulf Coast leaders to make RESTORE a reality.”
The Mississippi River Delta provides a wintering or stopover ground for 10 million of our nation’s waterfowl each year, and the delta and the rest of the Gulf Coast is home to a hugely significant commercially and recreationally important fishery.
A nationwide poll of 1,006 likely general election voters conducted by the Democratic firm, Lake Research Partners, and the GOP firm, Bellwether Research and Consulting, showed that the vast majority of U.S. voters (84 percent) believe the Gulf Coast — including the Mississippi River Delta — impacts the nation’s economy. Nearly two-thirds of those voters (63 percent) believe this region impacts the economy in their part of the country.
Vanishing Paradise works with over five hundred businesses and organizations to restore Louisiana’s waterfowl and fishing habitat by reconnecting the Mississippi River with its wetlands.