Date 07/02/2012

(Tallahassee – June 29, 2012) A group of Florida’s leading conservation advocacy organizations praised Congress today for passing the RESTORE Act as part of the Surface Transportation Extension Act. The RESTORE Act dedicates 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines from BP and other parties responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster to restoring Florida and the Gulf Coast’s environment and economy.

“With the passage of the RESTORE Act we can begin investing in and renewing Florida's Gulf Coast environment and economic health," said Manley Fuller, President of the Florida Wildlife Federation. "This legislation helps preserve Florida's $32 billion tourism industry and more than 108,000 seafood industry-related jobs. It is critically important to dedicate these funds to lasting and sustainable restoration of the Gulf Coast, our shorelines and coastal watersheds that will benefit recreational and commercial fishing. On behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, we applaud Senator Bill Nelson and his outstanding staff, the other conferees and cosponsors for seeing this critical legislation to the finish line."

The RESTORE Act will ensure that penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the disaster are dedicated to restoration projects that will rebuild the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast. In addition to restoring ecosystems and communities, a recent report by Mather Economics estimates that spending $1.5 billion per year in coastal wetland restoration would create 57,000 new jobs in the first 10 years. Funding for such projects will be made possible through the RESTORE Act. These jobs will not only rejuvenate an ailing economy but also revitalize our valuable natural resources.

“Senator Nelson’s RESTORE Act brings BP oil spill penalties back to Florida to help our coastal habitats and communities. We are grateful that Nelson got the bill passed and got the job done,” said Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon Florida.

“Now that the RESTORE Act has passed, we can get to work identifying and implementing projects to restore marine resources and coastal habitats of the Gulf of Mexico,” said David White, Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf of Mexico Restoration Campaign. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have the funding necessary to rebuild marine fisheries, improve water quality at our beaches and estuaries, and help our coastal communities by restoring habitats that will help buffer them from storms and rising sea levels,” he added. “A priority for us will be to identify restoration projects that will strengthen local economies by creating jobs and diversifying economic opportunities for commercial and recreational fishing and other tourism-related businesses,” White said.

“The passage of the RESTORE Act is a well-deserved victory for the Gulf Coast,” said Cindy Brown, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico program. “Restoring the Gulf will make the region more resilient, lessen the potential damage from future hurricanes and flooding, and create tens of thousands of jobs. A healthy ecosystem means a healthy economy, both regionally and nationally.”

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