Coastal restoration touted at Lake Charles meeting

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) speaks to citizens Monday in Lake Charles
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) speaks to citizens Monday in Lake Charles

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With the RESTORE Act now signed into law, the senator that introduced the legislation spent the day touting it at five stops in Louisiana.

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D) celebrated the act with local leaders, while explaining the benefits to coastal communities.

"The RESTORE Act is a tremendous step forward in jump starting critical coastal restoration in Louisiana after the worst environmental accident in our nation's history. This tremendous victory would never have been possible without the broad support of environmental, wildlife and business groups in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf Coast - this Coast," said Sen. Landrieu. "The RESTORE Act will soon be bringing billions of dollars into the Gulf Coast - this is a historic moment for Louisiana."

The RESTORE Act will dedicate 80% of penalties paid by BP under the Clean Water Act to gulf states for ecological and economic restoration, according to a news release from Landrieu's office.

Because Louisiana suffered the brunt of the ecological damage, the Bayou State will receive significantly more funding than other Gulf Coast states. Landrieu estimates Louisiana will receive anywhere from 3-billion to 5-billion dollars.

"It's still unclear what BP will end up paying. If a judge thinks or if a trial proves simply neglect, then BP will pay roughly $1,000 a barrel. If the judge thinks they are grossly negligent, which is my opinion, they will pay $4,300 a barrel. So the fine is going to be from 5-billion to 20-billion dollars... that's a lot of money. That can fix a lot of projects," said Landrieu.

Funds from the RESTORE Act may be used to help pay for projects outlined in the state's 50-year, $50 billion Coastal Master Plan, which includes 109 projects designed to improve flood protection.

"I think this is going to be a great downpayment and a jump start for our Coastal Master Plan," said Landrieu "It also sends a strong message to the industry. That the taxpayer shouldn't be on the book for this recovery - the companies are going to have to pay for the restoration not just the economic damage to individuals and businesses that has been going on for 2 years now but to the environment itself."

Landrieu's stops in Louisiana include Jean Lafitte, Thibodeaux, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Bell City.