Act allocates funds from BP oil spill to coastal states
St. Charles Parish stands to receive some funding for the West Bank hurricane protection levee following the signing of the Restore Act earlier this month.
However, it is not known just how much money the parish will receive.
The Restore Act will allocate Clean Water Act fines, estimated to be between $5 and 20 billion, from the 2010 BP oil spill disaster to Louisiana and four other coastal states. The funds are subject to the outcome of a settlement or jury award between BP and the Department of Justice.
Holly Fonseca, grants officer for St. Charles Parish, said St. Charles, as a coastal parish, will receive some of those funds allocated to the state.
“That portion is unknown at this point in time,” Fonseca said. “It will be based on whether BP or the Justice Department determines BP was simply negligent or grossly negligent and also the number of barrels of oil they determined were spilled, or the quantity.”
The West Bank levee has been a priority for the parish for a number of years, but up until now funding for the anticipated $150 million project has been elusive.
Fonseca said the Restore Act will help with the costs of the project.
“Our intention is that any funding from the spill would go to our choice of a flood protection project, which would be the West Bank hurricane protection levee project,” Fonseca said. “It’s definitely going to be a windfall for the parish.”
The news comes after Congressman Bill Cassidy and parish lobbyist Billy Tauzin said last month that funding for the project was in limbo because earmarks, special funds historically inserted into bills for local capital works projects, were no longer being granted in Congress.
At the time, Tauzin said his group was working towards providing local funding through the Restore Act.
The signed version of the bill allows local funds to be spent on only a handful of development projects, which includes coastal flood protection.
Fonseca said the Tauzin Group should receive some credit for the upcoming funds.
“I think they probably had a lot to do with the coordination amongst the congressional offices and helping out any way they could,” Fonseca said.