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One Billion Dollars in BP Fines Creates Opportunity for Texas Gulf Coast Restoration

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PHOTO: Texas is on the verge of receiving one billion dollars in damages stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the proper use of those funds is being called vital to the state's future ecology and economy. Photo credit: Stuart Seegar/Flickr.
PHOTO: Texas is on the verge of receiving one billion dollars in damages stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the proper use of those funds is being called vital to the state's future ecology and economy. Photo credit: Stuart Seegar/Flickr.
November 11, 2014

GALVESTON, Texas - Fines paid by British oil giant BP in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will soon be flowing into Texas. Dozens of businesses and organizations say the state must focus the windfall on restoring wildlife habitat along the Gulf Coast.

Texas is expected to receive as much as one billion dollars through the federal Restore Act, signed into law in 2012.

Steven Bender, regional representative at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and director of the Vanishing Paradise program, calls it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Texas environment and economy.

"A good, healthy ecosystem down the coast means fishing and hunting opportunities for sportsmen, which brings dollars into hotels and restaurants, guide services, and other venues," he says. "Having a healthy coast means also having a healthy economy."

The National Wildlife Federation is one of about 80 sporting groups and outdoors businesses that sent a letter regarding the funding to Governor Rick Perry and Governor-elect Greg Abbott. Kirby Brown, conservation outreach biologist with Ducks Unlimited, says the letter urges the restoration of fisheries, marine resources, wildlife habitats and wetlands to support and expand related jobs and industries.

"When you look at the Gulf Coast, you look at those bays, estuaries, and the wetlands associated with it," he says. "If they're functioning, if we're putting dollars into those things in ways that make sense, we can impact an entire gulf complex."

Earlier this fall BP was found grossly negligent for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The trial to determine the total amount the company will be fined for violating the Clean Water Act is scheduled to begin in January.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX