[StBernard] Landrieu Unveils Oil Disaster Aid Package to Help Gulf Coast Businesses, Communities
Westley at da-parish.com
Sun May 23 11:01:28 EDT 2010
LANDRIEU UNVEILS OIL DISASTER AID PACKAGE
TO HELP GULF COAST BUSINESSES, COMMUNITIES
Senator to introduce stand-alone legislation to accelerate revenue sharing
from offshore energy for La.
For audio of the full press conference, please visit:
WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., today held a press
conference in Washington D.C. to unveil new legislation to begin revenue
sharing with energy-producing Gulf Coast states immediately. The Restoring
Ecosystem Sustainability and Protection on the Delta (RESPOND) Act would
provide a much-needed revenue stream for Louisiana to defend itself from
natural and manmade disasters, like the Gulf Coast oil spill.
Nowhere in America is there an ecosystem more threatened than
Louisianas wetlands, Sen. Landrieu said. Yet, nowhere was it more
preventable. The federal government has failed time and time again decade
in and decade out to protect our coast. As a result of this mismanagement
and underinvestment, we have weakened marshes and fragile wetlands that are
more susceptible to the impacts of this oil spill than they should be. If
Congress takes the right action in the coming weeks, this coast can be
restored for the 2 million people who live in South Louisiana, but also for
the millions of Americans who depend on the energy produced off our shores.
That effort begins with accelerating revenue sharing for Gulf Coast states,
starting today. This profitable and productive working coast can no longer
afford to be shortchanged by the federal government.
The Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006
dedicates a portion of offshore oil and gas revenues to coastal protection
and restoration in the four Gulf Coast energy-producing states. Under
Landrieus RESPOND Act, funds from new leases off Louisianas coast would be
shared immediately, as opposed to 2017.
Todays weakened marshes allow oil to penetrate more deeply, killing
vegetation and destroying habitat deep within the wetland. As the
vegetation dies, the natural eroding forces of the ocean quickly churn the
soil into open water, eroding Louisianas natural buffers from storm surge
and leaving coastal communities in ever greater peril.
Sen. Landrieu also announced a series of amendments would
significantly bolster the $118 million Obama Administration aid package
request, part of which was included in the Senate Supplemental
Appropriations Bill passed by the Committee last week. The full Senate is
expected to consider the emergency spending measure next week.
The Landrieu amendments include:
Enhanced Claims Assistance & Support Authorizing $20 million for the
Economic Development Administration to help Gulf Coast residents and
businesses file claims with BP, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, private
insurance or other programs. Without technical assistance, many coastal
residents and business owners may lack the resources to effectively secure
recompense for damages.
Marketing Assistance Authorizing $15 million to support tourism and
seafood marketing to mitigate the damage being done to the Louisiana
Disaster Loan Relief Providing interest relief up to $15,000 to the more
than 12,000 Gulf Coast businesses still struggling to repay Small Business
Administration (SBA) Disaster Loans obtained following Hurricanes Katrina,
Rita, Gustav and Ike. SBA would be required to prioritize applications for
businesses with 50 employees or less, and businesses impacted by the Gulf
New Loan Deferrals Authorizing SBA to defer payment on any new disaster
loans granted as a result of this oil spill, interest free, for one year.
These deferrals would act as an advance until claims with BP can be filed
Expedite CIAP Grants Expediting the delivery of Coastal Impact
Assistance Program (CIAP) funds that are already appropriated for Louisiana,
but are being held up by bureaucratic red tape at the Minerals Management
Service. These funds are dedicated to projects to restore coastal wetlands,
restore marine and coastal ecosystems, mitigating damages to fish and
wildlife and other coastal conservation and mitigation efforts. The
four-year program, created by Sen. Landrieu in 2005 Energy Policy Act, was
designed to disburse all funds to states by 2010. However, less than 20
percent of the $1 billion in funds have been distributed to states.
Accelerate Coastal Projects Advancing $19 million in construction
funding for authorized Louisiana Coastal Area projects in the President's
Fiscal Year 2011 budget request. These projects were authorized in the Water
Resource Development Act of 2007. Projects such as river diversions, barrier
island restoration and Mississippi River Gulf Outlet ecosystem restoration
create a first line of defense to storm surge and oil spills, keep saltwater
at bay and protect interior wetlands from tidal influences, rebuild
fragmented wetlands, and restore the rivers natural land-building
Beneficial Use of Dredge Material Ensuring the beneficial use of dredge
material from authorized Army Corps of Engineers dredging projects in the
area funded by the emergency supplemental appropriations bill. This language
would provide the Corps with the authority and funding for the beneficial
use of dredge material to shore up barrier islands, vulnerable wetlands, and
shorelines through the Gulf Coast area affected by the oil spill.
- 30 -
More information about the StBernard