New polling results reveal that 84 percent of Florida voters and 92 percent of Panhandle voters support a bill approved by a Senate committee that would ensure that BP oil spill fines are spent on Gulf restoration. The poll also showed 75 percent of Florida voters and 82 percent of Panhandle voters are more likely to support candidates who back the legislation.

“Voters haven’t forgotten the BP oil spill was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history because our ecosystem and economy are still recovering from it a year-and-a-half later,” said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward at a press conference held earlier today. “They recognize that the BP oil spill fines would dramatically accelerate our recovery.”

The poll, which was conducted by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s pollster, Hamilton Campaigns, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s pollster, Ayres McHenry & Associates, sampled 700 registered Florida voters in the metropolitan areas of Miami, Orlando, the Panhandle/Northeast, South Central Florida and Tampa, who are likely to vote in the November 2012 election.

Last Monday, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force issued its final strategy for reversing oil spill damage, recommending that Congress devote a “significant portion” of the BP oil spill fines toward restorations efforts in the gulf, which was was saturated with more than more than 20 million gallons of oil following the 2010 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig.

The RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act, which was co-authored by Nelson and Rubio, would dedicate 80 percent of the estimated $5-$21 billion in expected fines for the oil spill to restoring the gulf ecosystem and economy. If Congress fails to pass the RESTORE Act, spill fines will go toward reducing the federal deficit or unrelated federal programs.

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