BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council has approved $52 million in Deepwater Horizon project money for coastal restoration projects.
News outlets report that the federal-state Restore Act council approved the funds Wednesday for six coastal-restoration projects and a study of the lower Mississippi River in Louisiana.
The money comes from Clean Water Act fines paid by Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded during the BP oil spill disaster in 2010.
"We believe this is a step in the right direction toward restoring the long term health of coastal Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region," Chip Kline, the executive assistant to the governor for coastal activities, said in a statement.
Most of the projects included in the initial list will involve planning, engineering and design, but the money will help advance shoreline protection, backfilling of oil and gas canals, and marsh-creation projects in southern Louisiana.
Environmental groups released a joint statement praising the list while giving their recommendations for the future. The groups include the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana,
The Nature Conservancy, the Ocean Conservancy, the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Defense Fund.
"In order to make progress toward comprehensive restoration, the Council will need a science-based process for prioritizing future projects, with a focus on more large-scale proposals," the groups said in a statement. "We stand ready to assist the Council and staff as they undertake this critical next step."
BP must pay $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act fines over 15 years under a $20.8 billion July settlement agreement with federal and state governments. Under federal law, 80 percent — or $4.4 billion — will go to the Restore Act Trust Fund. The settlement agreement is expected to be approved by a federal judge early next year.
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Posted on Fri, December 11, 2015
by Associated Press