Members of Congress should talk with their folks back home more often and also listen to them. An overwhelming majority of likely voters across the country and across the political spectrum appear to support Congressional action to direct oil spill fines to the Gulf Coast. A national survey found that more than four in five respondents nationwide said that the spill penalties should go to “restoration of the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast.” Nearly 70% felt strongly about this, according to the survey, which was conducted jointly by two Washington, D.C.-area polling groups and released by environmental advocates.
While Gulf Coast members of Congress are at odds over how much money each state should receive, as well as the rules for spending it, it’s quite obvious that the money must go to the Gulf Coast states. But, legislation to direct the penalties to the Gulf has made little progress. Clean Water Act fine money could be over $21 billion.
Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, and David Vitter, a Republican, jointly introduced a bill recently to send most of the Clean Water Act fines to the Gulf Coast. The bill would devote 60 percent of the money to environmental restoration. The amount available for economic recovery would be no more than seven percent for each of the five states. Leaders from Alabama and Gulf states outside of Louisiana have expressed concern that money reserved for environmental use will flow disproportionately to Louisiana. The spill may have done more damage to the economies of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida than to their environments, public officials in those states have said. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, is drafting his own bill to direct Clean Water Act fines to the Gulf Coast.
Source: Associated Press
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