EPW Committee Approves Bipartisan Boxer Amendment to Dedicate Funds for Gulf Coast Restoration
Also reported out water and wildlife bills, EPA water nominee, and GSA resolutions
September 21, 2011

Washington, DC - Today, the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) approved the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2011 (RESTORE Act), which establishes the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund to dedicate funding to address the ecological and economic damage caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Trust Fund, which is made up of 80% of all civil penalties paid by BP in connection with the oil spill, will enable Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Texas, to invest in the long-term health of the coastal ecosystem and local economies.

The bill passed by voice vote with a substitute amendment offered by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), EPW Committee Chairman, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), David Vitter (R-LA), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Senator Boxer said: "As Chairman of the EPW Committee, I am dedicated to the long-term restoration of the natural resources that coastal communities depend on. More than a year after the spill, people in the region are still suffering, and the bipartisan legislation approved by the EPW Committee today will help their recovery by ensuring that the Gulf Coast's damaged ecosystems and the thousands of jobs that depend on them are thriving and strong. I look forward to swift consideration of the RESTORE Act by the full Senate, because the long-term health of the Gulf Coast ecosystems and economies depend on it."

The Committee also approved the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act, the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program Act of 2011, the nomination of Ken Kopocis to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and three General Services Administration (GSA) resolutions. The legislation and nomination will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

The legislation, nomination and resolutions that were voted out of the EPW committee today are listed below:

• S. 1400, Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2011 (RESTORE Act)

S. 1400 was introduced by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Vitter, Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sessions, Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). The bill dedicates 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP for its role in the Gulf Coast oil spill to the restoration of the Gulf Coast. The bill also provides needed resources and flexibility to Gulf Coast states to start economic and ecological recovery immediately, establishes a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and a Comprehensive Plan focused on restoration of the Gulf Coast ecosystem, and establishes a Long Term Science and Fisheries Endowment and Gulf Coast Centers of Excellence.

• S. 97, San Francisco Bay Restoration Act

S. 97, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Boxer, amends the Clean Water Act to establish a grant program for the restoration of the San Francisco Bay. EPA, the State of California, local governments, non-governmental agencies, and other stakeholders have developed a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan to improve water quality and the health of the Bay. The legislation authorizes a federal grant program administered by EPA to implement this plan.

• S. 893, Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program Act of 2011

S. 893, introduced by Senator Landrieu authorizes financial assistance to study the damage to wetlands in Louisiana caused by feral swine, and to develop methods to eradicate or control feral swine and to restore damaged wetlands.

• Ken Kopocis, nominee to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water for the Environmental Protection Agency

• GSA Resolutions

The committee approved three General Services Administration for new or replacement leases for one Federal agency in Washington, D.C. and two in Suburban Maryland.

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