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RESTORE Act

The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (“RESTORE Act”) was signed into law on July 6, 2012. The RESTORE Act creates a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (“RESTORE Council”) and a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”) and dedicates 80% of the administrative and civil penalties paid after the enactment of the Act under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (“Clean Water Act”) in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Trust Fund for the restoration and protection of the Gulf Coast region. The RESTORE Act also outlines a structure by which the funds can be utilized to restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands and economy of the Gulf Coast region.

The RESTORE Act outlines the following framework for allocation of the Trust Fund:

  • 35 percent equally divided among the five States for ecological restoration, economic development, and tourism promotion (“Direct Component”);
  • 30 percent plus interest managed by the Council for ecosystem restoration under the Comprehensive Plan (“Council-Selected Restoration Component”);
  • 30 percent divided among the States according to a formula to implement State expenditure plans, which require approval of the Council (“Spill Impact Component”);
  • 2.5 percent plus interest for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program within the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and
  • 2.5 percent plus interest allocated to the States for Centers of Excellence Research grants, which will each focus on science, technology, and monitoring related to Gulf restoration.

In January 2013, Transocean agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve federal Clean Water Act civil penalties. Under the RESTORE Act, approximately $800 million of those funds were allocated to the Trust Fund.

On July 2, 2015, the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas, along with the United States Government and BP, announced they had reached an agreement in principle for $18.7 billion to settle outstanding federal and state claims against BP in relation to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act civil penalties.