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.
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National Fisherman Live: 10/21/14
In this episode:
North Pacific Council adjusts observer program
Fishermen: bluefin fishing best in 10 years
Catch limit raised for Bristol Bay red king crab
Canadian fishermen fight over lobster size rules
River conference addresses Dead Zone cleanup
National Fisherman Live: 10/7/14
In this episode, National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser talks about the 1929 dragger Vandal.
NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association will host its 4th Annual Marin County Dinner at Marin Catholic High School, 675 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield on Friday, Oct 10, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.