A Year After the Deepwater Horizon Spill, The Nature Conservancy Calls for Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico

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Survey shows support for returning fines to the Gulf to fund restoration

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The Gulf of Mexico – one of the most important economic drivers in our nation – is worth the investment in restoration.

On the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, The Nature Conservancy calls for long-term, large-scale restoration of the Gulf’s lands and waters and cites a recent online survey that shows overwhelming support for returning the oil spill fines back to the Gulf to help fund the work.

The Conservancy, with more than 35 years of working in the Gulf, has shown the Gulf’s resilience in numerous projects to restore oyster reefs, seagrass beds, coral reefs and coastal forests and marshes. Restoration is possible in the Gulf, but it will take the efforts and partnership of numerous organizations, from business to non-profits to universities, governments and communities.

“The Gulf of Mexico – one of the most important economic drivers in our nation – is worth the investment in restoration,” said Cindy Brown, Director of the Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico program. “Cleaning up the oil will not be enough to protect and restore the Gulf of Mexico. To go beyond business as usual, the Conservancy, along with many other environmental and social non-profits, is calling on the federal government to help fund the restoration effort by returning the oil spill fines BP will have to pay back to the Gulf.”

Recent survey findings show strong support for this decision. A survey, conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Nature Conservancy from April 12-14, 2011 among 2,018 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, showed that:

  •     79% of U.S. adults did not know that the fines BP pays will be directed back to the federal government’s treasury instead of directly to the Gulf states, and
  •     87% think that the fines BP will have to pay for the oil spill should go back to funding improvement of Gulf states and restoration of the lands and waters of the Gulf.

Gulf state senators are already taking up the call and introducing legislation in support of returning Clean Water Act Fines to the Gulf of Mexico to pay for restoration and improvements. Even after decades of hard use, the Gulf is still remarkably productive, but the scale of ongoing damage is increasingly outpacing the resources’ ability to heal and renew itself. Long-term, large-scale restoration of the natural infrastructure – the oyster reefs and seagrass beds, coral reefs and marshes – is necessary to protect the economic and environmental well-being of a natural resource that benefits the entire country.

Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Nature Conservancy from April 12-14, 2011 among 2,018 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Erin Smith at erin_smith(at)tnc(dot)org.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have helped protect 130 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at http://www.nature.org/.

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Sandra Rodriguez
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