– U.S. Sen. David Vitter today introduced the Natural Resources Restoration Act of 2011, which would require expedited coastal and fishery recovery and restoration from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry will introduce the companion bill in the House. The bill requires a down payment on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process to address resources that were harmed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“Under the current Natural Resources Damage Assessment process, it could be 10 to 20 years before BP and the responsible parties begin repairing the damage they have caused to our fisheries, wildlife, coastal and other natural resources. There isn't a fisherman or a single coastal community that has that kind of time. We can’t sit back and let BP drag their feet with reports and studies on how Louisiana’s coast was harmed,” Vitter said. “My bill would force BP to come to the table on equal ground with our state trustees and negotiate early payment for environmental restoration that is so critical to rehabilitating our coast.”
“I’m proud to join Senator Vitter in introducing the Natural Resources Restoration Act of 2011,” said Landry. “I am tired of BP using every trick and turn of the court process to prolong their obligation to pay for the damages they have caused to Louisiana’s natural resources. Our bill forces BP to make a choice: pay 30 percent of what they owe right now or negotiate in good faith; delaying the payment is no longer an option.”
Vitter and Landry’s legislation would provide for expedited payments from BP and other responsible parties to assist in restoring natural resources such as oyster beds, fishery stocks, coastal wetlands and foraging and nesting sites for waterfowl.
"We are approaching one year since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and virtually no funds have been invested in trying to restore the Gulf of Mexico. Louisianians in the fishing community depend upon the Gulf Coast's resources to put food on the table and pay bills. This bill ensures that the recovery process begins by summer of 2011 – not summer of 2025," Vitter explained.
The amount of the payment will be determined by a preliminary assessment by the National Academies done in coordination with the NRDA trustees. BP and the responsible parties will receive credit for their down payment against liabilities pursuant to the Oil Spill Pollution Act of 1990.
Louisiana’s designated Natural Resource Trustee agencies are the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.