Mr. WICKER. Mr President, this week marks the somber anniversary 2 years ago, on Friday, April 20, 2010, of an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oilrig in the Gulf of Mexico which took 11 lives and triggered the worst oilspill in American history. We still remember the families of those who were lost and those who were injured on that fateful day. We are forever grateful to the thousands of volunteers and relief workers from all over the world who responded in the wake of this disaster.
In Mississippi, like other Gulf States, the BP oilspill caused immeasurable damage not only on the shoreline but also to all sectors of our economy. Misperceptions of tainted seafood and oil-covered beaches devastated our seafood and tourism industries. Local businesses already challenged by a difficult economy were crippled by the disruption in market demand.
The moratorium that the Obama administration put on drilling cost our economy critical jobs related to domestic energy production and its associated support industries. The administration's delays on drilling permits are still stalling job creation along the gulf coast.
Many of my colleagues and I have come to the floor in recent weeks to talk about a better energy policy, specifically to offer solutions to lower gas prices. The administration's slowdown of domestic energy production keeps us dependent on foreign energy providers, ultimately hurting Americans at the pump.
There is no doubt that the residents of Mississippi and other Gulf States are resilient and have persevered through unprecedented circumstances. But there is work left to do. I urge all of my colleagues to remain committed to the coast's full recovery. I applaud the Senate's recent bipartisan passage of the RESTORE Act as part of the Transportation bill. It is imperative that coastal communities have the resources they need to rebuild and revitalize.
Under the provisions of the RESTORE Act, local officials will have the ability to prioritize the economic and ecological projects that are most critical to their own recovery. Local communities are in the best position to make these decisions, and needless government redtape should not stand in the way. Directly distributing Clean Water Act fines would ensure that the affected parties are compensated accordingly.
The RESTORE Act is an encouraging step forward for all Gulf Coast States.
I urge the House of Representatives to show the same support for the gulf coast in passing this important piece of legislation. Both parties can agree that the revitalization of our Gulf States is a priority and that providing local perspectives is vital to our recovery efforts. The disaster that occurred 2 years ago was an extraordinary tragedy with long-term consequences, and we cannot forget about the needs that persist.
The gulf coast provides one-third of the seafood harvested in the continental United States. The gulf coast is home to 6 of our country's 10 largest commercial ports. Mississippi and all Gulf States make up a vibrant part of this country, and the residents and businesses there are key contributors to the national economy.
There is no doubt that keeping our gulf strong is vital to our national interest, and part of that would be the passage of the RESTORE Act.
I yield the floor.
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