Written by Jen Finn
WASHINGTON — Three years after the BP oil spill ravaged the Gulf Coast in the nation's worst environmental disaster, federal officials and coastal communities say the pace of government-sponsored recovery efforts is slowly starting to pick up.
Billions in civil fines paid by BP remain undistributed as lawyers wrangle in court. States are still drawing up priority lists of projects for funding. And a total damage assessment of the spill that spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf over 84 days is at least two years away.
But key elements of the RESTORE Act, which directs as much as $21 billion in BP fine money to the five Gulf Coast states, are beginning to take shape, according to witnesses at a hearing Thursday before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Under a plea agreement reached earlier this year, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation received more than $2.5 billion in oil spill money to pay for environmental mitigation projects over the next several years.
Half of the money will be spent in Louisiana, which suffered the most damage. Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, would get 14 percent of the funds, while Texas would get 8 percent.
More recently, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees, one of three groups overseeing distribution of funds, announced it would spend up to $600 million of the $1 billion BP has agreed to provide for restoration efforts.
Read the full story at the Shreveport Times>>
Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.
Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.Read more...
The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is teaming up with leading shark-tracking nonprofit Ocearch to build the most extensive shark-tagging program in the Gulf of Mexico region.
In October, Ocearch is bringing its unique research vessel, the M/V Ocearch, to the gulf for a multi-species study to generate previously unattainable data on critical shark species, including hammerhead, tiger and mako sharks.Read more...