Representative Steve Southerland, II announced today that the House-Senate conference committee on the highway funding bill has reached an agreement to include the RESTORE Act in its final bicameral conference report. After working with colleagues from districts that were similarly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to introduce the RESTORE Act in the House, Southerland continued the fight for congressional approval as the only Gulf Coast member on the conference committee.
"Today's announcement represents a huge step forward for North and Northwest Florida and the many coastal communities still fighting to recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," Southerland said. "Our state and counties will now receive much-needed relief while eliminating federal bureaucracy. I'm pleased that members of both parties and both chambers came together to support the RESTORE Act."
The conference committee report must now receive approval from the full House and Senate before it is signed into law by the President. Specific funding levels for the individual Gulf states remains to be determined within the following framework:
* The RESTORE Act directs 80% of penalties collected under the Clean Water Act to the coastal areas that were hardest hit by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
* A portion of the Florida funds will go directly to impacted counties, as well as to the state of Florida administered by a coalition of local stakeholders.
* The remaining 20% of the penalty funds will be dedicated to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.