The RESTORE Act, which was signed into law July 6th, 2012, as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Public Law 112-141), established a mechanism for providing funding to the Gulf region to restore ecosystems and rebuild local economies damaged by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The RESTORE Act established in the Treasury of the United States the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund (Trust Fund), consisting of 80 percent of an amount equal to any administrative and civil penalties paid after the date of the RESTORE Act by the responsible parties in connection with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to the United States pursuant to a court order, negotiated settlement, or other instrument in accordance with section 311 of the FWPCA (33 U.S.C. 1321).
The RESTORE Act established the Restore Council, an independent entity charged with developing a comprehensive plan for ecosystem restoration in the Gulf Coast (Initial Comprehensive Plan Aug 2013), as well as any future revisions to the Comprehensive Plan. Visit www.restorethegulf.gov for more information.
• 35% of the funds are divided equally among the five Gulf Coast states for ecological and economic restoration. Eligible activities include: restoration and protection of natural resources; mitigation of damage to natural resources; workforce development and job creation; improvements to state parks; infrastructure projects, including ports; coastal flood protection; and promotion of tourism and Gulf seafood.
• 30% of the funds will be administered for restoration and protection according to the Comprehensive Plan developed by the Council.
• 30% of the funds are dedicated to the Gulf Coast states based on a formula. This formula will be based on the number of miles of shoreline that experienced oiling, the distance from the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling unit at the time of the explosion, and the average population as of the 2010 Census. Each state is required to have a Council approved plan in place for use of these funds.
• 2.5% of the funds are dedicated to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will establish a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration, Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program for marine and estuarine research, ecosystem monitoring and ocean observation, data collection and stock assessments, and cooperative research.
• 2.5% of the funds are dedicated to the Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program. The Centers of Excellence Research Grants funding is distributed through the States to nongovernmental entities to establish centers of excellence. The centers will focus on the following disciplines:
The RESTORE Act defines where and how funds may be spent. The Act defines “Gulf Coast State” to mean any of the States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, and includes the following areas within the “Gulf Coast region:”
1. In the Gulf Coast States, the coastal zones (including federal lands within the coastal zones) that border the Gulf of Mexico;
2. Any adjacent land, water, and watersheds within 25 miles of the coastal zones; and,
3. All federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
The RESTORE Act also established the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Trust Fund (Trust Fund). Due to uncertainty around a variety of factors associated with ongoing litigation, the ultimate amount of administrative and civil penalties that may be available to the Trust Fund and the timing of their availability are unknown. As a result of the settlement of Clean Water Act civil claims against Transocean Deepwater Inc. and related entities, a total of $800 million, plus interest, will be deposited in the Trust Fund within the next two years – approximately $320 million of which has already been deposited. Thus, based upon the RESTORE Act and the payment schedule agreed to by the court for the Transocean settlement, by February 20, 2015, thirty percent of that total amount – $240 million, plus interest – will be deposited in the Trust Fund for allocation by the Council under the Council-selected Restoration Component. Additional funding is dependent upon settlement or adjudication of civil or administrative claims against other parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.