Lawmakers in the House and Senate have taken the first steps toward enactment of legislation that will allocate 80% of fines assessed against BP under the Clean Water Act to Gulf States. On September 21, 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee reported
out S. 1400 – The RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011. The bill would allocate the fines collected in connection with the spill, which could total in excess of 21.4 billion, as follows: 35% would be divided among the five Gulf states; 30% would be given to a federal-state council dedicated to Gulf coast ecosystem restoration; another 30% would be assigned to states according to an impact formula based on oiled shoreline miles, proximity to the spill and coastal population; and 5% would be used to establish a long-term science and fisheries endowment.
On October 5, 2011, the House counterpart [H.R. 3096] was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
While the legislation enjoys the support of the Obama administration, ultimate passage is far from certain. If the law is enacted, depending on the amount of fines collected, it could create significant economic activity in the Gulf region through coastal restoration projects and the promotion of tourism in the Gulf Coast region.