A bill that calls for 80 percent of BP penalties to go toward restoring the Gulf of Mexico moved onto the full U.S. Senate after it passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Under the bill, called the Restore Act, a restoration plan would have to be drawn up and a special council set up to oversee restoration. The bill also calls for money to be set aside for long-term studies of the Gulf.
The bill has been backed by Gulf Coast senators as well as environmental groups.Environment and Public Works Committee member U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the bill’s move to the full Senate was a “huge step” for the Gulf Coast’s recovery. Brian McPeek, chief operating officer of The Nature Conservancy, said unless Congress passes the bill the fines from the Deepwater Horizon spill could be spent anywhere.
Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government can collect $1,100 for each barrel of oil spilled. However, if the spill was found to be caused by negligence the fines can go up to as much as $4,300 for each barrel spilled. Under these scenarios, BP faces paying fines between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion.
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