Gulf Coast lawmakers reach compromise in push for oil spill fine money
WASHINGTON — After months of negotiations, Gulf Coast lawmakers have reached a compromise and introduced a bill in the House that would steer most of the fines collected from the BP oil spill to the region for recovery efforts.
“It’s only fair that the lion’s share stay on the coast,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who led the effort. “Nobody was selfish in this process. … We were all on the same mission … to restore the Gulf.”
The Restore Act would send 80 percent of the fines collected from BP for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the Gulf for restoration efforts. Lawmakers estimate the fines could total $5 billion to $20 billion.
The funds would be shared by Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas. Without the legislation, the fine money would go into a trust fund for future oil spills and to the U.S. Treasury.
Last month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a similar measure introduced by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The bill would divide some of the money among the five states to restore their coastlines and coastal communities.