Following up on comments made at a congressional hearing in March, U.S. Sens, Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have filed a bill that will appropriate 80 percent of the federal penalties on BP for last year’s oil spill to the Gulf Coast.
Of the money going to the Gulf Coast, 35 percent would be shared by Gulf Coast states, 60 percent would go to restoration and five percent would go to an undisclosed science program.
The bill would take fines collected form BP under the Clean Water Act. The senators said the oil company faces fines from $5.4 billion to $21.1 billion.
At a March congressional hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) echoed Vitter and Landrieu in saying she would move to steer BP fines to Gulf Coast States.
Vitter and Landrieu said they would seek an end to President Barack Obama’s moratorium on issuing drilling permits in the Gulf at the hearing. There is no mention of lifting the moratorium in legislation they filed.
President Obama has already endorsed legislation seeking to give Gulf States 80 percent of the fines levied against BP. Louisiana officials are adamant that, of the Gulf States, Louisiana endured the most hardship and should received the bulk of the earmarked funds.
Recently, Louisiana’s congressional delegation criticized BP for allegedly going back on a promise to pay the state $12 million to restore oyster beds that were damaged or killed entirely from fresh water from the Mississippi River into marshlands.
Governor Bobby Jindal recently stated that Louisiana will divert funds from existing departments to pay for the oyster beds and send BP an invoice later.
Also speaking at the hearing were Democrat Bob Graham and Republican William Reilly, the co-chairs of the White House Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Graham and Reilly issued a series of recommendations for improving off-shore drilling safety, stating that BP’s inadequate response to the oil spill was a sign of “systemic” flaws in the oil industry.