Last week, more progress was made toward protecting our oceans. In fact, in the course of one meeting, two great things happened. First, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved Senator Landrieu’s bill, S. 1400, also known as the RESTORE Act. RESTORE stands for Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States. In a nutshell, this bill would help revive the Gulf Coast States after their economic destruction due to last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill disaster. The bill would help bring revenue to states in the Gulf of Mexico, and renew our resources.
The other great thing that happened, was an “amendment in the nature of a substitute” added to this bill by Senators Whitehouse (D - RI), Boxer (D - CA), Vitter (R - LA), and Sessions (R - AL). “Amendment in the nature of a substitute” means that instead of adding something on to the bill, Senator Whitehouse et al wanted to change the text of the bill. As part of the RESTORE Act, a Trust Fund is to be established, and the money in it invested. Money to this Trust Fund will be paid by those who were charged with penalties for the explosion and sinking of Deepwater Horizon. What that means is that the Trust Fund is established at no extra cost to American taxpayers! The money in the Trust Fund will earn interest, and among other changes to the bill, there was an added section to allow 50% of the money from this Trust Fund to go directly to the National Endowment for the Oceans (NEO).
The NEO is what Senator Whitehouse proposed last year, and again this past May as bill S. 973. It strives to provide funds to a council that will oversee the many agencies doing their part to protect our waters across the country – not solely in the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all the money the Endowment receives will go directly towards the cause of saving our oceans and Great Lakes. Those who receive grants must create a 5-year plan to conduct research and promote the welfare of our oceans and Great Lakes, with specific attention to its economic, social, and ecological well being. This ensures exploration and investigation into long-term conservation methods.
The RESTORE Act, with the new amendment in the nature of a substitute, passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Now the bill is off to the Senate floor to be voted on. Last week’s passage just brought us one step closer to protecting and restoring our ocean resources.
Want to get involved? Send a letter or an email, or call your Senator, and tell him or her how great this bill is, and ask your Senator to support S. 1400 when it reaches the Senate floor. See more on our Take Action page.