SCP will get a share of BP federal settlement

Officials still unsure of exact amount from proposed agreement

Although St. Charles Parish officials don’t have a figure yet, they’re saying the parish will get a portion of the proposed BP Oil Spill $18.7 billion settlement with the federal government.

Louisiana’s proposed share is $6.8 billion (the figure doesn’t include the money to local governments), but it would get the largest portion of the record-setting settlement if approved among the five states involved. The settlement is expected to direct resources to much needed coastal restoration and economic development.

Part of the settlement, about $5.5 billion, is based on paying Clean Water Act penalties.

BP’s drilling partner, Transocean, has already paid $1 billion in penalties. Of this amount, the parish’s share was $229,194, said Holly Fonseca, the parish’s grants officer.“It is the parish’s intention to utilize any RESTORE Act funding for an eligible Outer Flood Protection System project,” Fonseca said.

Because BP’s settlement is pending approval by a federal judge, Fonseca said they have not yet confirmed the amount to be allocated to the parish.  The approval could come later this year.

Each parish’s share of these fines is based on population, miles of shoreline and average land mass.

If approved, the agreement would end years of litigation pursued by the federal government and the five states with Gulf coastline: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

In February of last year, St. Charles Parish was among 11 Louisiana parishes that sought to recover these penalties from BP and its drilling partners under a Louisiana law for pollution-related losses of aquatic life and wildlife caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill. But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that the suits were preempted by federal law because the spill occurred in federal waters.

On July 6, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the RESTORE Act, establishing a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund in the U.S. Treasury Dept. Some 80 percent of the civil penalties paid after July 6, 2012 was deposited into trust fund and invested with proceeds to go programs, projects and activities that restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region.

Under the act, the Treasury Department administers two grant programs – the Direct Component and the Centers of Excellent Research Grants Program.

About Anna Thibodeaux 1849 Articles
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