The RESTORE Act and what it means to the Gulf Coast region

bird with boom ms gulf coastThe RESTORE Act passed in the Senate on Thursday.  I will never forget the vote: 76-22.  We collectively were a part of this victory, with one voice.

The RESTORE Act creates an essential framework to manage and finance Gulf Coast recovery, using 80% of Clean Water Act penalties BP will have to pay for 2010 oil disaster.  The RESTORE Act establishes a trust account with these fines, to restore both the economy and environment of the Gulf Coast.

The RESTORE Act will bring hope back to the Gulf Coast region for our communities at large. Major funds are needed to support reconstruction of Gulf Coast in the high hazard area devastated by our recent BP oil disaster of 2010

This disaster caused oil to wash ashore and destroy vital coastal wetlands. These wetlands act as natural storm barriers, reducing storm surge and minimizing inland flooding. Without restoration of these gulf wetlands, numerous coastal communities will remain vulnerable to future storms and flooding.

The RESTORE Act should promote economic recovery, by putting people to work on efforts to revive our wetlands, rebuild our oyster reefs, and restore barrier islands.

Investing billions in ecosystems restoration would be great way to help the Gulf Coast’s environment and to get people back to work. Our people are worth investing in and what better way to do this than to create jobs. We must reinvest in our communities. And to do that we must support the RESTORE Act.

That is why we must constantly find ways to let Congress know how important it is to keep pushing for the RESTORE Act.  Now it's time to thank the Senate and keep moving forward.  And let our Congress know that local folks should receive the jobs because it is the right thing to do.  We must continue to encourage our people to do letter writing campaigns and show our determination to work with our Congressmen and Senators to finds ways to create economic development for our Gulf Coast region.

Sharon Hanshaw is Executive Director of Coastal Women for Change, in Biloxi, Mississippi. A native of Biloxi, Sharon worked as a cosmetologist for 21 years. She got involved in community organizing and activism after Hurricane Katrina, working to make sure that community members are decision makers in the recovery process. Coastal Women for Change (CWC) focuses on women's empowerment and community development through programs for the elderly and children.

Photo credit: Bridge The Gulf Project.