Background of the RESTORE Act

The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80 percent of all civil Clean Water Act penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, paid by responsible parties, back to the Gulf Coast for restoration.

A bipartisan coalition of Gulf Coast Senators and Representatives introduced the RESTORE Act in 2011. Two official reports on the spill, one by Navy Secretary and former governor of Mississippi Ray Mabus and the other from the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling,  introduction of the legislation. An interagency task force formed after the spill, known as the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Task Force, also reaffirmed the need to create a new comprehensive body of state and federal officials to oversee Gulf Coast Restoration.

On July 2, 2012, after more than two years of work by legislators and advocates, including strong support from business across the Gulf Coast, the RESTORE Act was signed into law by the President as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141).

Breakdown of RESTORE Act Funding

When civil Clean Water Act fines from the oil spill are assessed, 80 percent of the fine amount will be transferred into the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, which was created by the RESTORE Act. Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, settled civil Clean Water Act fines with the Department of Justice in 2013 for $1 billion, $800 million of which will be transferred into the trust fund.  The largest outstanding fine will be paid by BP once a federal judge assesses a fine or approves a settlement. Money from the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund will then be allocated as directed in the RESTORE Act. The allocations include:

  • 35 percent divided equally between the five Gulf States for eligible restoration activities.
  • 30 percent for environmental restoration, as determined by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
  • 30 percent divided among the five Gulf States based on an Oil Spill Impact Allocation Formula.
  • 5 percent for scientific monitoring and research, including 2.5 percent for “Centers of Excellence.”

Graphic of RESTORE Act Funding Buckets [PDF]

Types of projects and programs eligible for funding under the RESTORE Act

The RESTORE Act balances economic and environmental recovery needs. Eligible uses for the 35 percent divided equally between states include activities such as workforce development and job training, infrastructure projects benefiting the economy or ecological resources, and coastal flood protection. The same eligible uses apply to the 30 percent divided between the states based on oil spill impact, with the exception of a cap on infrastructure spending, and an additional requirement that projects be consistent with the Council’s spending. The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s allocation will fund projects and programs aimed at restoring the Gulf Coast ecosystem. No projects or programs have been proposed by the Council yet.