Today, the U.S. House and Senate have passed the RESTORE Act, dedicating 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster to Gulf Coast restoration, as part of the transportation bill. It is now on its way to President Obama's desk.
This is truly historic—it will be the single largest investment ever by the United States Congress in Habitat restoration.
This giant step forward will provide as much as $20 billion in funds for Gulf restoration and recovery. Here's what it means for birds, habitat and people:
Each of the five Gulf States will have the financial capacity to begin and complete restoration projects that have long been planned, but underfunded.
Thousands of acres of lost habitat for birds and other wildlife in the region will be restored, repaired or replaced.
Much needed re-engineering of the Mississippi River Basin will get a kick start—allowing that ecosystem to begin to rebuild itself, and helping to reverse the disappearance of Louisiana Coastal wetlands.
Restoration projects large and small, spanning the entire coast of the Gulf of Mexico from the barrier islands of Texas to the Florida Everglades, will receive essential support.
As in any bill that goes to a House-Senate conference, there were compromises. Unfortunately, the visionary funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the Senate version of the bill got left on the cutting-room floor.