*Update: On Friday, July 6th, President Obama signed the RESTORE Act into law.
Today marks a momentous occasion for conservation. In a historic turn of events, the RESTORE Act, designed to help recover the ailing Gulf coast, cleared both the House and Senate and is on its way to President Obama’s desk.* The legislation represents the single largest investment in environmental restoration ever made by Congress, providing as much as $20 billion in funds for Gulf restoration and recovery. The money comes from Clean Water Act penalties that BP had to pay as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010.
“The RESTORE Act is a lifeline for the Gulf Coast. It will create jobs, and it'll restore the places wildlife need to thrive,” said David Yarnold, Audubon’s president and CEO. "This is an act of hope and faith in America that has been generations in coming, and it’s the biggest conservation funding victory Congress has ever delivered."
Here’s what the legislation will mean for birds, habitat, and people:
· Each of the five Gulf states will have the financial capacity to begin and complete restoration projects that have long been planned, but underfunded.
· Thousands of acres of lost habitat for birds and other wildlife in the region will be restored, repaired, or replaced.
· Much needed re-engineering of the Mississippi River Basin will get a kick start—allowing that ecosystem to begin to rebuild itself, and helping to reverse the disappearance of Louisiana Coastal wetlands.
· Restoration projects large and small, spanning the entire coast of the Gulf of Mexico from the barrier islands of Texas to the Florida Everglades, will receive essential support.