U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), co-author of the RESTORE Act, which allocates to Gulf Coast states 80 percent of civil penalties assessed against BP under the Clean Water Act for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, today made the following statement regarding the Justice Department's announced settlement of criminal charges with the company:
"As negotiations now focus on settling outstanding civil penalties, state officials must stand strong if the Obama administration does not deliver the full promise of the RESTORE Act. Today's headline will be nothing to celebrate if areas directly affected by the oil spill, such as Mobile and Baldwin counties, are shortchanged in the end."
President Obama signed the RESTORE Act into law on July 6, 2012. Absent the RESTORE Act, Clean Water Act fines resulting from the oil spill would have been directed to the U.S. Treasury, not to the local communities impacted.
The total amount of funding to be allocated to the Gulf Coast states under the RESTORE Act remains to be determined through ongoing legal proceedings between federal authorities and liable parties. Once this amount is determined, the RESTORE Act directs 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties resulting from the Gulf oil spill to the coastal areas directly impacted by the spill. These funds can be used only for the affected areas' ecological and economic recovery with the following breakdown:
* 65% of the funds will be spent by state and local task forces
* 30% of the funds will be spend by a federal-state task force
* 5% of the funds will be for Gulf fisheries and ecosystem research and monitoring
* The funds dedicated to Alabama will be spent by a council of local leaders subject to state ethics laws and chaired by the Governor of Alabama.
* The remaining 20% of the Clean Water Act penalties will be dedicated to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.