On April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded, spilling millions of barrels of crude oil in the Gulf waters. The spill, the largest in U.S. history, closed tens of thousands of square miles of federal waters for fishing, and caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and tourism.
On July 6, 2012, the President signed the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act; Subtitle F of Public Law 112-141) into law. The Act establishes a new Trust Fund in the Treasury of the United States, known as the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. 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.
The Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund will be distributed in the following manner:
The Act gives Treasury several roles in administering the Trust Fund, including:
- Establishing procedures, in consultation with the Departments of the Interior and Commerce, concerning the deposit and expenditure of amounts from the Trust Fund.
- Administering and monitoring compliance with the Direct Component and the Centers of Excellence Research Grants Component.
- Monitoring the states’ compliance with requirements under other parts of the Act, supplementing efforts of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
- Investing the Trust Fund, in consultation with the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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.
Treasury’s proposed regulation was published on September 6, 2013. Treasury will receive public comments on this proposed regulation for 60 days and anticipates publishing final procedures soon thereafter.
For Additional Information on the RESTORE Act:
Treasury Issues Proposed RESTORE Act Regulation, Opens 60-Day Comment Period