Congress Votes to RESTORE the Gulf Coast (6/28/12)

  • Posted by Dawn Merritt

    By Scott Kovarovics, IWLA Conservation Director

    Great news for America’s anglers and waterfowl hunters as well as the residents of our Gulf Coast! The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives reached an agreement today on a transportation bill that includes the RESTORE Act.

    The RESTORE Act dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from BP and other parties responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster to restoring the Gulf Coast environment and economy. It’s something the Izaak Walton League has been fighting for since the disaster happened. Without Congressional action, the fines for the oil spill would be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (to be used for future cleanups) and the federal Treasury rather than directed toward restoration efforts that are urgently needed now – and the Gulf Coast would continue to deteriorate.

    More than 10 million migratory waterfowl winter or stopover on the Mississippi River Delta – that’s roughly 70 percent of the waterfowl that use the Central and Mississippi flyways – and the area is also a significant commercial and recreational fishery. The wetlands of the Mississippi delta produce much of the fish and shellfish we eat, support waterfowl populations hunted across the country, and protect the lives and property of millions of Americans. And we’re losing these wetlands at a frightening pace – the area of about one football field every 38 minutes. And manmade changes to the Mississippi River (such as dams and levees) are holding back the sediment that used to replenish these wetlands, leaving coastal areas to be swallowed by the sea.

    Further damage came in April 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded while drilling a well one mile down in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven crew members were killed and more injured as the rig was engulfed in flames – and more than 4 million barrels of oil began gushing into the Gulf. More than 1,000 miles of the Gulf Coast were affected by the oil spill, and scientists are still working to figure out the full impact of the spill. The oil has affected entire ecosystems and further degraded wetlands.

    What Congress issued today is technically called the Surface Transportation Extension Act conference report, and there is some final work to be done on it in Congress. But we expect that this legislation – including the RESTORE Act – will be ready for the president’s signature very soon. Then the process of restoring the critical functions of our coastal wetlands can start in earnest.

  • Re: Congress Votes to RESTORE the Gulf Coast
    Jul 23, 2012 | Deb Clow | 
    Dawn- Couldn't find your email address, so will go this route. Enjoyed the convention very much. Our chapter has the opportunity to have some free commercials. Does the League have anything already set up that we could just use and insert our information. Thanks Deb Clow Sioux Falls Chapter

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