NEW ORLEANS––Today more than 140 women from a broad coalition swarmed Capitol Hill. The group called Women of the Storm is a non-partisan grassroots organization that was formed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and now includes women from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida
At a press conference in front of the Capitol, the women stood under bright blue umbrellas and urged Congress to dedicate 80% of the BP Oil Fine dollars to the Gulf Coast states for restoration.
The non-partisan grassroots organization was formed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with the blue umbrellas representing the blue tarps that covered thousands of damaged roofs along the Gulf. Following the environmental and economic storms caused by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the group expanded to include women from all five Gulf Coast states.
More than 140 women of different backgrounds and political persuasions, hailing from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, spoke with one voice at the 11 a.m. news conference, backed up by over 131,000 signatures by citizens in every state who signed the group’s e-petition at www.RestoretheGulf.com
Senator Landreiu (D-LA), Representative Scalise (R-LA), EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Alabama business women Lucy Buffet, Alexandra Cousteau, and Mary Matalin and a group of students from Greenwich, CT interested in restoration of the Gulf Coast joined the women.
“Our delegation remains united in its efforts to achieve justice for the Gulf states that have been ravaged by several hurricanes and the largest oil spill in American history,” said Senator Landreiu.
“These women went to Washington in a spirit of bipartisanship because they know that it is both fair and reasonable for BP to pick up the tab for Gulf Coast restoration, rather than forward the bill to tax-payers in the future,” said Anne Milling, who founded the organization in early 2006. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a leadership issue!”
Milling explained, “If Congress doesn’t pass legislation to dedicate the fines into a Gulf Coast recovery fund, billions of dollars from the pockets of BP will be washed away into the general fund. At this time, there is no requirement for the BP dollars to be used to restore this region’s ability to provide the nation with sustainable food supplies, energy production and other natural resources.”
Under the Clean Water Act, BP and the other parties liable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster may pay fines totaling a minimum of $5 billion –– or up to $21 billion if they are found to have been grossly negligent. Until a cap of $2.7 billion is reached, fines are required by law to go into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to clean up the next disaster. The Women of the Storm are speaking up about the billions of dollars expected to exceed that $2.7 billion cap.
The group’s position reflects that of the bipartisan federal Oil Spill Commission, headed by Sen. Bob Graham and Bill Reilly, as well as the Mabus Commission and public polling in the five Gulf Coast states. The Obama Administration has also suggested that a significant portion of the fines go to a Gulf Coast recovery fund.
“It is often said that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Milling said. “If Congress takes the common sense step of dedicating BP fines to the Gulf Coast region, all Americans will benefit for generations to come from a healthy coast that supports domestic energy, shipping, seafood, ecology, recreation and culture.”