Gulf coast leaders urge passage of Restore Act

A coalition of Gulf Coast leaders is lobbying Congress to pass the Restore Act. That bill would require that 80 percent of all BP fine money be distributed to the five Gulf Coast states.

The measure has bi-partisan support; the trouble is, with so much money at stake, the bill is in danger of getting caught up in good old Washington politics.

Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo is an original co-sponsor of the Restore Act and helped introduce it last October.

"Once BP is held accountable for its actions, it's only fair that those hardest hit will receive the relief they desperately deserve," he said, while introducing the measure last fall.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is pushing the bill in the U.S. Senate.

"The oil flowed uncontrollably for three months. And 86,000 square miles was closed to fishing for months. And there were billions of dollars lost in the fishing industry, the hospitality industry, including restaurants, etc. all along the Gulf Coast," said Sen. Landrieu.

The Restore Act has bipartisan support and has supporters in both houses of Congress. However, like most legislation that involves large sums of money, the Restore Act may be in danger of getting caught-up in politics.

That's a fear of Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco, who is among the leaders lobbying for the bill in Washington.

"Yet, the toxic environment of Washington politics has stalled the bill. The passage of this bill is so important to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and to Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, all the Gulf states," said the supervisor.

Congressman Palazzo said he's constantly working to educate his colleagues in Congress about the importance of the Restore Act.

"I don't think there's any reason the federal government should profit off the coast's pain and suffering. And that's why we're working so hard for the passage of the restore act," said Congressman Palazzo.

The bill has already cleared a full committee in the Senate. Senator Landrieu said there's a chance it may be attached to a transportation bill that's coming up for a vote soon.

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