GULF SHORES, Ala., Oct. 11, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Elected officials and community leaders converged beneath a sunny Gulf Coast sky for a press conference sponsored by Gulf United Metropolitan Business Organization (GUMBO). Sen. Jeff Sessions, Rep. Jo Bonner and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange discussed issues surrounding BP fine money from the 2010 Gulf oil spill and the stewardship of RESTORE Act funds, which is critical for the ongoing recovery of the Alabama coastal region.
"On behalf of GUMBO, we are sponsoring this event to help you understand what is going on with BP fine money," said Anthony Kaiser of GUMBO. "GUMBO is a political advocacy group that works on behalf of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley and other surrounding communities, and today is an information day; it's all about learning what BP and the federal government are working on and what they're doing."
Although Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Sen. Richard Shelby could not be in attendance, they have both "said that they are 100 percent in support of what we are doing and that they will continue to fight for every dime that belongs to Alabama from NRDA and the RESTORE Act," according to Kaiser.
Then, each of the following elected official provided insight into the current issues surrounding the RESTORE Act.
Statement from U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Mobile) on the RESTORE Act:
"I think we all have a very legitimate question, and that is what is the federal government doing behind closed doors in negotiating a settlement that could be an end run around legislation that was signed into law by the president of the United States just a few months ago.
But the media reports that we have all heard and read over the last few days, if true, are more than just troubling. They are down-right offensive to think that with an oil sheen still coming up at the site of BP Deepwater Horizon that the justice department could possibly be negotiating to the benefit of the polluter to the detriment of the victims who live here on the Gulf Coast. It's totally unacceptable if true, and if it's not true, then it can be cleared up very simply.
The attorney general (U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder) came down here last year to look into the concerns that many of us had about the flawed procedures of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and how many innocent victims were being denied. And when the attorney general came to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, he reiterated what the president had been saying 'we are going to stand with the people of the Gulf Coast.'
If this settlement that is being reported is true, why now? Why just a few days away from the Nov. 6 election, are we looking at potentially giving the polluter a tax deduction? And, what will that mean to the victims?
The RESTORE Act is still the law of the land. All the attorney general has to do – he doesn't have to disclose the confidential negotiations; no one is asking for him to do that. But all he really has to do is take this option – if it's true – off the table, so that we don't give the tax credit to BP but that the credit goes as the RESTORE Act intended to the victims, which are the people who live along the Gulf Coast of America."
Statement from Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL) on the RESTORE Act:
"This is a fabulous part of Alabama's economic agenda. What happens here means so much to the entire state of Alabama so when you work together, you help us do the kind of job we need to do for you.
We believe that the Congress dealt with how the money should be dispersed and handled under the RESTORE Act, and that is the best way for the money to go.
My general philosophy in these circumstances is to do what I can in Congress to deliver a legal and political situation that gives our governor who has to make the final decision as much flexibility, as much power and as much influence to do the right thing for Alabama as we possibly can, and that's been our goal."
Statement from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange on the RESTORE Act:
"I'm proud of our advocates here on the stage for being so aggressive and so successful in getting RESTORE passed, and I join with them and the governor and Sen. Shelby and in full agreement and support of the RESTORE Act, the money, the promises to the people of this area to make them whole. That is the whole point of this, and I don't think it's possible humanly to make them whole, but to at least try to repair the damage that was caused by BP."
How to Support the RESTORE Act
According to Bonner, "You are doing it. That this many people from both sides of Mobile Bay to be here in Gulf Shores this morning, speaks volumes that we are concerned about the rumors we're hearing."
Along the same lines, Strange said that "this is a display of teamwork that is not on display in other states; I can promise you that. We've got a unified team, and I'm not going to rest as the (Alabama) attorney general until we hold BP accountable – whether it's in a settlement context or in court in New Orleans in January."
Video of press conference: http://youtu.be/i10jzs1k4KI
Additional Info: www.gumbogroup.org
Event Media Contact:
Additonal Media Contacts:
Alabama Attorney General's Office: Joy Patterson
email@example.com or 334-242-7491
Sen. Jeff Sessions' Office: Stephen Miller
Stephen_Miller@Sessions.Senate.Gov or 202-224-4124
Office of Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon: Glenda Beech
firstname.lastname@example.org or 251-981-6810
Gulf United Metropolitan Business Organization (GUMBO) is a coalition of local business leaders, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus and tourism/travel organizations who are committed to the intelligent growth and development of south Baldwin County. Our mission is to foster better communication between area business leaders and government officials at the local, state and federal levels in order to enhance the growth and sustainability of south Baldwin County and provide economic opportunity for our citizens. GUMBO is patterned after a similar group in Myrtle Beach, SC that has been in existence for more than 20 years and has had similar success in focusing policy makers on the infrastructure needs of that community.
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