Ducks Unlimited is celebrating the inclusion of key elements of the RESTORE Act in the Surface Transportation Extension Act reported out of conference committee today. The RESTORE Act directs Clean Water Act fines levied against the parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to restore the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem and economy.
“Ducks Unlimited is pleased to see Congress recognize the national importance of the Gulf Coast and seize this precedent-setting opportunity to support its restoration by including the RESTORE Act in the bill they will send to the president,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “Without this investment in restoration, the people and wildlife that depend on the Gulf region’s ecosystem, as well as industries vital to the entire country, remain even more susceptible to future disasters.”
Since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, DU and its partners have worked with Congress to build support for legislation ensuring penalties paid by the responsible parties under the Clean Water Act are used to restore the Gulf Coast region.
“Ducks Unlimited commends Senators Barbara Boxer, Mary Landrieu, Richard Shelby, Bill Nelson, David Vitter, the other Senate cosponsors of RESTORE and their staffs for their dedication to seeing the legislation passed,” said DU President John Newman. “House Speaker John Boehner; Majority Leader Eric Cantor; and Congressmen Steve Scalise, Jo Bonner and Steve Palazzo should also be applauded for making Gulf Coast restoration a priority.”
“This legislation is a rational and necessary solution that adds no further burden to taxpayers or the national deficit and ensures the fines levied against the responsible parties are invested in the areas most damaged by the spill,” Hall said.
Just as the Gulf region’s multi-billion-dollar fishing and wildlife industries depend upon the habitat these marshes provide to fish and wildlife, the nation’s energy and shipping industries depend on these same marshes to protect important infrastructure from Gulf storms.
“The economic health of the United States depends on sustaining the navigation, flood control and energy production provided by the Gulf Coast ecosystem, and each of those functions is currently at severe risk due to the degradation of these coastal wetlands,” Hall said. “This legislation is important to the entire country. The region is an often overlooked but important part of the foundation of our national economy, and the financial strength of the nation is intrinsically tied to this region’s environmental well-being.”
As the single most important wintering area for waterfowl in North America, the Gulf Coast is one of DU’s five highest-priority habitats for conservation on the continent. Unfortunately, no wetland system in North America is sustaining the rates of loss incurred in the Gulf Coast region, especially in coastal Louisiana. Hence, Ducks Unlimited’s focus remains on addressing the long-term loss of coastal wetlands threatening this vital ecosystem.
Image courtesy Ducks Unlimited