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October 07, 2011

Sportfishing industry commends legislation to rebuild Gulf economy and environment

Companion bill to the Senate’s RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act directs penalties paid by BP to the region for recovery efforts

Alexandria, VA – The sportfishing industry commends the bi-partisan House of Representatives members from the five Gulf Coast states for their efforts to direct much-needed funding to the Gulf of Mexico region for economic and environmental recovery in the aftermath of the April 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. Similar to a companion bill introduced in the Senate this past July, the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act, H.R. 3096, directs 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP to the restoration of the Gulf Coast environment and economy.

“On behalf of the thousands of recreational-fishing dependent businesses in the Gulf of Mexico region, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) thanks Representative Scalise and the more than twenty co-sponsors of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Now that this legislation is introduced in both chambers, we urge Congress to move swiftly to pass this legislation and the President to sign it into law. It’s been 19 months since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and Congress needs to take quick action to aid the Gulf region in its recovery efforts.”

Without Congressional action, 100 percent of these penalties, which is estimated to be between $5.4 and $21.1 billion, will go into the general treasury instead of towards Gulf recovery. Similar to the Senate version, the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act directs a portion of the BP penalties equally to the five Gulf Coast states for economic and environmental restoration projects, and establishes the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to develop and fund a comprehensive plan for the ecological recovery and resiliency of the Gulf Coast. To address critical gaps in fisheries data, the Act also establishes an endowment that will provide funding for needed fisheries stock assessments and ecosystem monitoring among other things. A section-by-section summary of the House version is available here.

“The RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act represents a thoughtful, fair and state-centric approach that balances both environmental and economic considerations,” said Nussman. “In addition to the bill’s focus on habitat restoration and business recovery, ASA supports the inclusion of a funding mechanism for fisheries data collection and research. Recreational fishing opportunity in the Gulf and throughout the nation faces numerous threats from natural disasters to ever-increasing regulations. It is critically important that we invest in short- and long-term fisheries data collection to help gather the science needed to properly manage fish stocks.”

ASA urges the entire sportfishing community to contact their House members in support of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act. Last month, the Senate version of the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act passed out of the Environment and Public Works Committee and currently awaits a vote on the Senate floor.

Original co-sponsors of H.R. 3096 include: Steve Scalise (R-LA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Jo Bonner (R-AL), Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Gregg Harper (R-MS), Jeffery Landry (R-LA), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), Pete Olson (R-TX), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), David Rivera (R-FL), Martha Roby (R-AL), Mike Rogers (R-AL), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Steve Southerland (R-FL), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Allen West (R-FL).