Great news! With U.S. Senate approval of an amendment, a huge second step has been taken to ensure that funds from the Clean Water Act and other penalties assessed following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are used to pay for economic and environmental restoration projects in Gulf Coast states. (See Feb. 16 post: Your Help Needed to Ensure Gulf, Delta Restoration.)
In a bipartisan effort, the Senate passed the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act as an amendment to the Senate transportation bill. Previously, the House gave voice vote approval of a similar amendment.
"It is so good to see that an outstanding bipartisan boost for conservation can actually occur in this Congress, reaffirming the importance of healthy fish and wildlife resources across this nation,” said Noreen Clough, B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director.
“Senators Nelson, Landrieu, Shelby, and Baucus showed great leadership and stewardship in championing this legislation. Every one of the more than 500,000 B.A.S.S. members should be celebrating this historic vote for fishing - for habitat restoration, access, infrastructure improvements, and especially for restoration of the ravaged Gulf of Mexico."
The Senate amendment also includes a much needed increase in funding for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides money to federal, state, and local authorities for acquisition of land and water to benefit conservation and recreation.
“This provision would double current funding levels for the fund to $700 for each of the next two years and reauthorize it until 2022, for a total of $1.4 billion,” the American Sportfishing Association said.
“Taken together, if the transportation bill with the RESTORE amendment attached should win final passage, these two doses of conservation funding would represent, by some estimates, the largest boost in conservation funding in American history.”
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