The original Deepwater Horizon fire (Pic by Deepwater Horizon Response, via Flickr)

E & E Daily is reporting that backers of a bill that would send billions of dollars in Deepwater Horizon spill penalties to the Gulf Coast states affected by the spill nearly have the support they need to get a Senate vote this week.

As we reported earlier this week, the RESTORE Act has been introduced as an amendment to the Senate transportation bill by Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. and Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., told reporters yesterday that she is confident that the Senate will take the amendment up soon.

Via E & E:

“It looks like yes,” Landrieu said of the possible vote. “We don’t have a specific time but we’re still working towards that.”

The measure could be either folded into the transportation bill before it hits the Senate floor or offered as a stand-alone amendment, Landrieu said. But the decision on how or whether the amendment will receive a vote depends on not only Senate leadership but also whether the measure has a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.

Landrieu said it is “very close” to having 60 votes.

“I don’t think we’ll have a vote without having the necessary votes to pass it,” she said. “So we’re working. We’re very close.”

Nine out of ten Senators from the Gulf Coast states are backing the amendment, which would dedicate 80 percent of the estimated $5-21 billion in Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 BP oil spill toward restoration of the area’s ecosystem and economy. Without congressional action, between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion in expected Clean Water Act fines would likely go toward a fund to pay for the cleanup of future oil spills, as well as to the federal treasury.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently gave voice vote approval to its version of the amendment.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis last year estimated the cost of the RESTORE Act to be $1.2 billion, a figure that lawmakers still need to offset.

As noted by E & E, “there is disagreement — particularly in the House — over how to offset the $1.2 billion price tag.”

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