Top federal officials have urged Congress to send billions of dollars in fines, anticipated as a result of the massive Gulf oil spill, to the Gulf Coast states impacted by the disaster. Even though a number of lawmakers have said they favor authorizing such use of Clean Water Act fines, no action has yet been taken in either the House or Senate. As a result, the money remains headed toward a fund that finances future oil spill cleanups. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had this to say:
It is important for Congress to act to divert Clean Water Act penalties associated with the spill to dedicated funds to support restoration and recovery in the Gulf.
The Clean Water Act fine money could total between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion. Billions more could come from the separate Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which is examining the spill’s environmental impact. BP PLC and the spill’s other responsible parties must foot the bill for both of those programs.
It’s evident that funding is critical to the recovery effort. Melody Barnes, head of the White House’s domestic policy arm, has also called on Congress to send the money from fines to the Gulf. It appears that President Obama remains committed to that cause. Some Gulf officials, especially those in Alabama, have expressed concern that economic recovery efforts may be ignored in favor of environmental recovery. BP and the others responsible for the oil spill must be held fully accountable in all aspects of the recovery.
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