Senate Committee Set to Take Up Legislation to Give BP Fines to Gulf States

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss) today said they are hopeful that a key Senate committee will this week approve legislation to direct a significant portion of federal fines paid by BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday is scheduled to mark up the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 (S.1400). Committee approval would make the legislation, on which Cochran and Wicker are original cosponsors, available for consideration by the full Senate. (The Committee markup is slated for 10 a.m., tomorrow, Sept. 21, in 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building.)

“I am optimistic that the Environment and Public Works Committee will act favorably on this legislation,” Cochran said. “The Deepwater Horizon tragedy will continue to affect Gulf Coast states for some time. This carefully negotiated measure is intended to ensure that Mississippi and the other states have resources to overcome those ecological and economic challenges.”

“Communities on the Gulf Coast were directly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the Clean Water Act fines that will be assessed should go to help those communities,” said Wicker. “Members across the Gulf Coast developed a balanced solution. I urge Senators on the committee to approve this important legislation.”

S.1400 would establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund to be made up of 80 percent of all civil penalties paid by BP and other parties held responsible for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The fund would be distributed to Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Texas. The remaining 20 percent of the fines assessed for Clean Water Act violations would revert to the U.S. Treasury.

The bill follows the recommendations of Gulf Coast restoration groups following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

Senators Cochran/Wicker joint press release