Gulf Restoration Gets Overwhelming Support from Voters Nationwide

April 20, 2011

News Release

Sean Crowley, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.572.3331,  
David J. Ringer, National Audubon Society, 601.642.7058,  
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,  
Sandra Rodriguez, The Nature Conservancy, 703.841.4227,
David Willett, Ocean Conservancy, 202.351.0465,
Laura Rusu, Oxfam America, 202.496.1180,  

(Washington, D.C.—April 20, 2011) On the first anniversary of the start of the BP Gulf oil disaster, new polling released today shows that voters nationwide overwhelmingly support efforts to ensure that any fines paid by BP and others responsible for the spill are dedicated to restoring the region. Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), BP’s fines will be deposited into the Federal Treasury unless Congress takes specific action to direct the penalties to Gulf restoration.

The bipartisan polling, conducted by Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners and GOP polling firm Bellwether Research and Consulting, showed that 83 percent of voters support efforts to dedicate the BP oil spill penalties toward restoration of the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast, and 69 percent strongly support it.

The poll also showed that support for restoration is strong across party lines with 90 percent (76 percent strongly) of Democrats, 84 percent (69 percent strongly) of independents, 76 percent (60 percent strongly) of Republicans, and 78 percent (62 percent strongly) of those who say they agree with the Tea Party movement in favor of such a proposal.

“This issue is strong and intense for voters of all partisan stripes,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “Not only do they strongly believe in restoring the Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast and holding BP and others responsible for the oil spill accountable for their actions, but they also understand the key economic role that this region plays across the country.”

“The data is very clear that Republicans stand with Democrats and independents in wanting the BP fines to go back to Gulf restoration, even when presented with the option to direct these funds toward reducing the deficit or other pressing issues,” added Christine Matthews, president of Bellwether Research and Consulting.

Also today, a coalition of 261 businesses, elected officials, faith groups and other organizations from the Gulf region and around the country signed a letter to leaders in Congress calling for BP penalties under the CWA to go to restoration in the Gulf.

“This is a make or break moment for the Gulf, and we need your leadership,” reads an excerpt from the letter. “The nation needs a healthy Gulf. The region is the backbone of our economy – and the financial strength of the region is intrinsically tied to its environmental well-being.”

The letter also highlights statistics that underscore the connection between the Gulf region’s environmental and economic health:

• The Gulf currently supports a $34 billion per year tourism industry, and its fisheries support an estimated $22.6 billion dollars in seafood and commercial and recreational fishing-related activity. (Oxfam America/Center for American Progress)

• The Gulf produces roughly 40 percent of all the seafood in the lower 48 states. (National Marine Fisheries Service)

The polling—sponsored by the Gulf Renewal Project—was designed and administered by telephone using professional interviewers. The survey reached a total of 1,006 likely general election voters nationwide. The survey was conducted April 12-17, 2011. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 3.1%.