Restoration efforts on the Gulf Coast depend in large part on payments due from BP for the oil spill that happened two years ago. Most of the fines assessed are committed to repair the coastline, which was deteriorating years before the spill. Many businesses are still waiting on those funds before they can proceed.
Some businesses are getting anxious about how long it’s taking to settle the matter. “My fear is the longer you let money lay around, it has a way of disappearing from its intended purpose,” says Jim Marino. Marino is the president of Taylor Engineering, a 60-employee business that works to restore coasts for cities and counties. Taylor Engineering was prepared to replenish the sand for a shrinking dune in Destin, Florida before Hurricane Isaac barreled through in August. “All of the dune we were just going to restore is pretty much gone,” states Marino. Even before Hurricane Isaac added to the damage, there was a lot of restoration to be done.
The money from BP is to be divided among five Gulf States by the Restore Act; the Act created new councils of federal and state officials to approve projects. BP has paid almost $9 billion in spill-related claims and has already set aside $3.5 billion toward the Clean Water Act fines. BP may settle before the scheduled court date on January 14th.
Jackie Prince Roberts, the director of sustainable technologies for the Environmental Defense Fund, says that the funds from BP provide a needed, “down payment on a much larger investment that the U.S. and the world needs to make on rebuilding the coastline.” The president of economic development group Greater New Orleans Inc., Michael Hecht, elaborates, “it’s going to be critical that these oil spill penalties funds are used to help stabilize and restore the coast.”
Tozzi, John. “Businesses Wait on BP Fines to Repair the Gulf Coast.” Environment, Small Business, Bloomberg Businessweek. (8/31/2012). 9/19/2012.