National Audubon Society, 6/29/12
Today, the U.S. House and Senate have passed Audubon’s highest legislative priority, 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 environmental restoration. Your support was instrumental in making it happen. While nothing can undo the devastating impact of the BP oil disaster, as we go into the 4th of July week, America has another cause for celebration.
Here’s the statement I issued today:
“The RESTORE Act is a lifeline for the Gulf Coast. It will create jobs, and it’ll restore the places wildlife need to thrive. This is an act of hope and faith in America that has been generations in coming, and it’s the biggest conservation funding victory Congress has ever delivered.”
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. That funding is the primary driver of land acquisition for Parks, Refuges and Forests in America and we fought hard to keep it in the final legislation and came up short. On the other hand, we’re pleased that a provision in the House version of the bill that would have expedited construction of the Keystone XL pipeline also was excluded.
In the final analysis, we’re thrilled to be delivering billions of dollars of desperately-needed investment in one of America’s most biologically rich regions that is critical to migratory birds. Thank you for your help in achieving this historic victory.
President & CEO
National Audubon Society