NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Congress has voted to set aside 80 percent of water pollution fines BP PLC is expected to pay for its 2010 oil spill and spend that money on ecosystem and economic restoration in five Gulf states.
The House and Senate included the provision in a transportation bill both chambers passed Friday.
BP could be fined between $5.4 billion to $21.1 billion under the Clean Water Act, depending on whether the company is found grossly negligent.
Congressional members in the Gulf were relieved to pass the bill. They were worried that the hefty fines would have ended up going into a general fund unless they got language passed specifying how the money could be spent.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said setting aside the fines was "an absolute top priority."
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