Senator Bill Nelson spoke to to the local political community members as well as city leaders yesterday on the Pensacola State College main campus. He addressed the RESTORE Act that recently passed in the Senate and is in limbo in the United States House of Representatives. The goal of the RESTORE Act is to keep up to 80% of the fine owed by BP here in the Gulf Coast to make up for revenue lost after the 2010 oil spill, as well as other economic matters concerning the city of Pensacola.
“If we go amending the RESTORE Act very much down in the house, all kinds of bad things could happen,” Senator Nelson said when insisting that the RESTORE Act must not be diluted by Congress.
Senator Nelson also said that in previous days he had spoken with the Deputy Director of FEMA, and successful urged the organization to revisit the matter of reimbursement of debris removal for the city of Pensacola after Hurricane Ivan. In the aftermath, the city received substantially less than the school system.
Concerning the matters of fines and oil pollution, Senator Nelson was adamant that companies begin to take responsibility for their actions. He referenced the Exxon oil spill in Alaska. He emphatically stated that not only is there no oil to be found in the areas of the Gulf Coast that oil companies want to drill, but also that they are endangering military training waterways as well as posing threats for more future spills. He stated that he supports the ban on drilling in the Florida portion of the gulf and that he will continue to support it in the future.
“It doesn’t make any difference, there’s not any oil out there,” he insisted, “So, why is there this relentless effort to keep pushing in the Gulf under the guise of drill baby drill?
Senator Nelson went on to state that companies like to buy drilling acres because increased acreage increases the value of the company. He suggested that a new law be put into place requiring companies to actively drill in the areas that they own, a “use it or lose it” policy.
In a change of conversation direction, vice chairman of the Escambia County School Board Jeff Bergosh asked how “we can help prevent the economy from getting worse” in discussing the school loan default crisis. The crisis refers to the (mostly) private colleges that give out huge loans to students and when they can’t pay, the students and the schools default.
Senator Nelson responded saying that the loan default crisis is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. “The private colleges that take the advantage of the bill that the senate passed, we’re trying to fix that problem,” he said. He closed the discussion by commenting on the national debt that has continued to rise over the past decade. “If we would be good stewards of the surplus that we had, we could pay off the national debt in 10 years.”