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Senate Approves Bill To Aid Gulf Coast States With BP Oil Spill Fines

According to recent reports, the Senate has approved a highway bill which includes beneficial provisions for the Gulf Coast. Sources say that the bill guarantees that 80 percent of the fines collected from the April 2010 BP oil spill, which could reach $20 billion, would be distributed for coastal restoration to the five states along the Gulf of Mexico. These states include: Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Alabama.

Many sources close to Capitol Hill are uncertain how the bill will be received by the House of Representatives. Many Gulf state legislators are anxious to pass the "RESTORE Act" before a settlement between BP and the department of justice is reached.

Reportedly, under the Senate bill, the five states would divide 35 percent of the money equally and 60 percent would be directed to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and 5 percent would go to a new Gulf science and fisheries program. Sources say the House version of the amendment doesn't specify how the money would be distributed and if Congress doesn't act, the fines collected would go to the Treasury.