Last Friday, July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the Transporation Bill that includes the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act 0f 2011 (RESTORE Act). Within this legislation, 80% of the assessed Clean Water Act penalties will now be expended in the five Gulf states to restore, protect, and make sustainable use of the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine habitats, coastal wetlands, end economy of the Gulf Coast. These penalties have not been assessed yet, but could be between $4 and $20billion.
There is much guidance described in the RESTORE Act that will govern the allocation and establish conditions of the CWA penalties, most notably the distribution of funds:
- 35% of the total would be allocated in equal shares to the five Gulf States
- 60% of the total would be allocated to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
- 5% would be allocated to a Gulf Coast research, science, and technology program and the Centers of Excellence
A couple of other noteworthy items:
- Funds allocated to the Gulf states and political subdivisions may be used as non-federal match to Federal programs requiring cost-share.
- There is no time limit to expend the funds.
- There is a 180-day timeclock that starting ticking last Friday to accomplish things such as:
- establish and develop procedures for the management of the Trust fund
- establish the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Federal agnecy) nominated by the Gulf states
- publish a proposed comprehensive restoration plan
It’s going to be a pretty exciting 180 days I’m sure! If you have any questions, I’m happy to help answer them or at least attempt to figure out the answer! 🙂
Here is a link to the legislation:
Gulf Coast Restoration Program Manager, USFWS