Lawmakers across the Gulf are celebrating a huge win tonight as they look forward to receiving much needed relief from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The U.S. House recently approved the transportation bill, which the RESTORE Act was part of and now it's up to the President to look it over and give his approval.
Representative Steve Southerland addressed lawmakers and community leaders Monday afternoon to celebrate the passage of the bill that addresses the impacts of economic and environmental damage. It allocates assessed BP fines to the Gulf Coast states.
"The language that was settled upon is language that gave the flexibility to the counties as well as to the states to address the type of devastation and harm that was caused." Southerland says.
Last week the house passed the final version of the bill and is now headed to President Obama for his approval. The bill offers 80% the assessed fines to the 5 affected states which 35% of it will head straight to Florida.
"This doesn't happen in northwest Florida, this doesn't happen in this area at all; we just don't get the long end of the stick." Commissioner George Gainer says.
"We lost a little steam, we lost a little momentum, but Bay County is assured that our future that we were anticipating prior to April 20, 2010 will come into fruition." TDC Director, Dan Rowe says.
Southerland also says the bill sets aside money for additional research that fisherman and environmentalist have asked for. "It is no secret, that I am passionate about our fish. When I say our fish, I mean the people's fish." Southerland says.
Once the fines are assessed by the justice department and distributed to the affected states, the Florida Association of Counties is planning on developing projects that will help our coastal communities. The organization is currently working on a template that will help them oversee planned projects once the money comes in.