On April 20, 2010, the largest offshore oil spill in the United States occurred, exacerbating the effects of previous natural disasters. Oil flowed unchecked for three months. The cause was an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Before the well was capped, millions of barrels of crude oil were released, closing tens of thousands of square miles of federal waters to fishing, and causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, and tourism.
On July 6, 2012, the President signed into law the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act; Subtitle F of Public Law 112-141) . The Act established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund in the U.S. Treasury Department. Eighty percent of the civil penalties paid after July 6, 2012, under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be deposited into the Trust Fund and invested. Under the Act, amounts in the Trust Fund will be available for programs, projects, and activities that restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region.
Treasury is responsible for issuing compliance and auditing procedures for the entire Act and procedures for two grant programs administered by Treasury. Treasury is now issuing these procedures as an Interim Final Rule, with an effective date 60 days from the date of publication. Treasury will accept comments on the Interim Final Rule for 30 days after publication, and publish a Final Rule after considering any comments. Separately, Treasury published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that allocates shares to individual Louisiana parishes under the Direct Component. Treasury is accepting public comments on the Proposed Rule through September 2, 2014.
Under the Act, Treasury will administer two grant programs, called the Direct Component and the Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program. The amounts currently available to eligible grant recipients under these programs, as well as those currently available under other RESTORE Act programs, may be found here. Treasury plans to update this information periodically. The amounts available will change as new deposits are made into the Trust Fund, interest from investments is credited,
and amounts are withdrawn by grant recipients for eligible programs, projects, and activities under the Act.
The Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund will be distributed in the following manner:
The Direct Component sets aside 35 percent of the penalties paid into the Trust Fund for eligible activities proposed by the States of Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and 20 Louisiana parishes, and 23 Florida counties. The Comprehensive Plan Component sets aside 30 percent of the penalties, plus half of all interest earned on Trust Fund investments, to be managed by a new independent Federal entity called the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council), http://www.restorethegulf.gov/. The Council includes members from six Federal agencies or departments and the five Gulf Coast States. The Council will direct those funds to projects and programs for the restoration of the Gulf Coast region, pursuant to a comprehensive plan developed by the Council.
Under the Spill Impact Component, entities representing the Gulf Coast States can use an additional 30 percent of penalties in the Trust Fund for eligible activities pursuant to state expenditure plans approved by the Council. The remaining five percent of penalties, plus one-half of all interest earned on Trust Fund investments, will be divided equally between the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce, and the Centers of Excellence Research Grants Program.
Funds for each component are available through grants. The Federal and state entities that administer grants under the Act will be primarily responsible for overseeing compliance with the terms of their award agreements, including administrative requirements common to Federal grant programs. In addition, the Treasury Inspector General is authorized to conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations of projects, programs, and activities funded under the Act.
 The Office of Management and Budget issued its final guidance, Uniform Administrative Requirements , Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), on December 26, 2013. It will be published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 2 C.F.R. Part 200, and is currently available at 78 Federal Register 78,590. Grant recipients under the RESTORE Act will need to comply with the OMB guidance.