New Rule – Major Step Forward for Louisiana Recovery, Says Senator

Major Step Forward for Louisiana Recovery

U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) made the following statement regarding the U.S. Treasury Department’s Interim Final Rule under the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act, which establishes grant programs for the Gulf States, including Louisiana, to receive funds for environmental restoration and economic development projects.

Vitter has been urging the Obama Administration to move forward with the RESTORE Act in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that Louisiana who was hardest hit by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is compensated appropriately. Vitter had also been pushing the Administration not to allow Pot 2 money to be utilized for economic projects. Treasury’s original draft would have allowed Pot 2 funds to be directed for economic projects rather than for purely coastal restoration projects, and Treasury appropriately withdrew the language in the final regulations.

Louisiana suffered the greatest impacts from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with devastating effects on our economy, communities, and major industries. Getting the money flowing is the first step toward revitalizing our economy and coastal ecosystems,” said Vitter. “I have worked for years pressing the Obama Administration to fairly distribute the recovery funds, and this final rule announcement is a major step forward for the recovery of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast States.”

Vitter was an original co-sponsor of the RESTORE Act, which dedicates at least 80 percent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) penalties paid by BP and other responsible parties to the Gulf States to restore coastal ecosystems and economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Vitter shepherded the legislation through the EPW Committee where it passed unanimously in November 2011 and through the Senate in March 2012. As a leading Republican conferee on the Highway Bill and the only member from the Louisiana delegation involved in the negotiations, Vitter continued to make the enactment of the RESTORE Act a top priority by insisting that the language be included in the final version of the bill.

Earlier this year, Vitter along with U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise and Bill Cassidy pressed the Treasury Department to speed up the process developing and finalizing the regulations that will govern how the funds are disbursed to the states.

Last month Vitter testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard on issues surrounding the implementation of the RESTORE Act. Vitter highlighted his requests to have the Treasury Department and the Gulf Restoration Council make sure they correctly allocate the funds to the States that were impacted most.

Press Release, August 14, 2014