The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), which was attached to the Surface Transportation Bill, was passed on June 29, 2012 by Congress and signed into law on July 6, 2012 by the President. The RESTORE Act allocates to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund (Trust Fund) eighty percent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) administrative and civil penalties resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which are paid by the responsible party(ies) pursuant to a court order, negotiated settlement, or other instrument. Prior to passage of the RESTORE Act, CWA civil penalties would have been deposited into The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
Under the provisions of the RESTORE Act, 80% of all CWA administrative and civil penalties related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will go into the Trust Fund to be distributed based on the following allocation:
- State Allocation and Expenditure - 35% will be split equally among the five Gulf Coast States.
- In Florida 7% will be allocated to the counties as follows:
- 75% of the funds going directly to the eight disproportionatelyaffected counties, Escambia County to Wakulla County
- 25% going to the non-disproportionately impacted Gulf coastal counties.
- Council Establishment and Allocation – 30% will be allocated to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) to develop and implement the Comprehensive Plan.
- The State of Florida will prepare a list of project to submit for consideration for inclusion in the initial Comprehensive Plan. The State will coordinate with the counties, other organizations and the public to develop the list of projects to present to the Council.
- Oil Spill Restoration Impact Allocation – 30% of the funds will be allocated to the five Gulf Coast states based on a formula in the RESTORE Act.
- These funds will be released to the States upon the Council approving a State’s Expenditure Plan.
- The State’s Expenditure Plan will be developed and submitted by a consortium of local political subdivisions that includes at a minimum 1 representative of each affected county.
- Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program - 2.5% will be allocated to the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who in consultation with the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, will use the funds to carry out research, observation and monitoring to support, to the maximum extent practicable, the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem, fish stocks, fish habitat and the recreational, commercial and charter fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Centers of Excellence Research Grants - the remaining 2.5% of the funds will be split equally among the five Gulf Coast States to award competitive grants to nongovernmental entities and consortia in the Gulf Coast region (including public and private institutions of higher education) for the establishment of centers of excellence.
- For Florida, the Florida Institute of Oceanography will be in charge of awarding the competitive grants.