Friday, July 22, 2011

Senate RESTORE the Gulf Coast BILL

The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act of 2011


On April 20, 2010, the tragic explosion of the Deepwater Horizon took the lives of 11 men and unleashed an uncontrolled flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico. The damage to the economic and environmental sustainability of America’s working coast is immense. The responsible parties have to be held accountable for the damages. At the same time, significant investment is needed to ensure the long-term health of the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economies.

The RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 is a bipartisan, regional approach that will:

. Dedicate 80 percent of Clean Water Act penalties charged to BP to the restoration of the Gulf Coast
. The Clean Water Act gives the EPA authority to fine parties found to be responsible for an oil spill.
. Under current law, these penalties are not returned to the place where the injury occurred.
. The RESTORE Act will establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund made up of 80 percent of all civil penalties paid in connection with the Deepwater Horizon spill.
. Provide needed resources to Gulf Coast States to start recovery immediately
. A portion of the funds will be allocated directly and equally to the five Gulf Coast states for ecological and economic recovery.
. States know what projects will best aid their recovery and can act quickly.
. The bill ensures that funds are spent responsibly and for their intended purpose—restoring and protecting the ecosystems and economies of the Gulf Coast.
. States must spend these funds on ecological and economic recovery activities along the coast, as defined in the legislation.
. Establish a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and a Comprehensive Plan for the Gulf Coast
. The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, established in the RESTORE Act, will develop and fund a comprehensive plan for the ecological recovery and resiliency of the Gulf Coast.
. The Council will be comprised of both Federal and State members, allowing agencies to work together and remove obstacles to implementation.
. The comprehensive plan will give priority to large-scale projects that contribute the greatest to the overall restoration of the Gulf Coast ecosystem, and projects in established state restoration plans.
. A portion of the Council allocation will be distributed based on proposals from the five Gulf Coast States.
. Establish a Long Term Science and Fisheries Endowment and Gulf Coast Centers of Excellence
. Five percent of the Fund will be allocated to a Gulf Coast research, science and technology program,
  including fisheries management.
. The program will establish Gulf Coast Centers of Excellence to advance research, science and  technology   in the Gulf around specific disciplines, including coastal wetlands restoration, fisheries, resilient coastal development, and sustainable offshore energy security and safety.
. The endowment will include funding for needed fisheries stock assessments and ecosystem monitoring to ensure the long term sustainability of our commercial and recreational fishing industries.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maritime Development Leaders Honored


The Florida Ports Council – comprised of Florida’s fourteen deepwater seaports – met in Ft. Lauderdale on June 22nd and 23rd to talk about the future of Florida’s seaports and the maritime industry. During the two-day strategic planning meetings, the Council recognized Senators Jeremy Ring (D-Margate) and Jack Latvala (R-St. Petersburg) and Representatives Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville) and Dana Young (R-Tampa) for their efforts to ensure the sustainability of Florida’s maritime industry and to promote economic development and job growth in Florida.

Representative Young and Senator Latvala were recognized for their efforts to reduce unnecessary state security regulatory burdens on Florida’s seaports and maritime industry workers. Due to comprehensive Federal security regulations enacted over the past few years, these state laws were deemed inefficient, duplicative and unnecessary. Addressing Council members, Representative Young expressed “I am humbled to be the recipient of the 2011 Tugboat Award and it was truly my honor to work with the Ports Council and the statewide business and maritime communities to pass this important Seaport Security bill." Council President Doug Wheeler reiterated that “this legislation will allow Florida's Ports to be more competitive, while also maintaining a secure environment where Florida businesses can create jobs.”

Representative Ray and Senator Ring were recognized for their continuing efforts to increase state investment in priority seaport projects, and to create a planning environment that entices the private sector to locate or expand their maritime operations in Florida. Senator Ring informed Council members that the Florida Senate had stressed the need to invest approximately $100 million a year for the next five years in Florida’s seaports, adding “Florida’s ports are vital since they will serve as the economic engine for the 21st century economy Florida needs to compete nationally and internationally.”

Representative Ray touted that the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott had approved the investment of over $117 million this fiscal year in Florida’s seaports and stressed the importance of global trade and logistics to Florida’s economy. "I am honored to receive the Tugboat Award from our system of Ports in Florida as we join our efforts together to meet the needs of evolving shipping markets. The fulfillment of our vision will take Florida to a new and exciting future in international commerce."

Governor Scott was presented a Tugboat Award in May following the Security bill signing ceremony at the Port of Tampa for his efforts on behalf of the Ports and the maritime industry. “Governor Scott has been a tremendous advocate for the Ports since he took office and we appreciate all he is doing to put Florida in the best position to capitalize on opportunities for job creation and growth associated with the ever-growing global marketplace” said Wheeler.