Gulf Coast leaders push passage of RESTORE Act

WASHINGTON — Gulf Coast lawmakers, business leaders and local officials pressed a congressional committee today for approval of a bill to send potentially billions of dollars in oil spill fines to the Gulf states, but their plan faced tough questions and some skepticism.

Members of the House and some of the witnesses called to testify expressed concerns that the Gulf Coast may not really need the fine money, fine revenues could overlap with a separate environmental recovery process, directing the money to the Gulf Coast could deprive an oil spill cleanup fund, and not enough of the fine money would be used for scientific research.

“I do have some concerns about this specific piece of legislation,” said Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio. “The responsible parties have already agreed to fully pay the costs of the spill response, damages, and restoration activities to individuals and businesses, environmental trustees, and the Gulf Coast states.”