News & Resolutions

Recent BP Settlement Gives Louisiana’s Coastal Restoration Efforts an Unexpected, Significant Boost

November 21, 2012 5:15 PM

The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced a settlement with BP over the criminal charges related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Contained in the settlement are provisions that require $2.4 billion of the $4.5 billion fine be committed to ecosystem restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana will directly receive $1.2 billion to be spent on either a large-scale sediment diversion from the Mississippi River or significant barrier island restoration projects.

Additionally, $100 million will be committed to the North American Wetland Conservation Fund to be used to rebuild wetlands throughout the Gulf coast. NAWCF is a federal program that state wetland restoration agencies, private landowners and conservation organizations can apply to for grants to expand smaller scale wetland restoration projects.

Coastal wetland restoration advocates did not anticipate money for ecosystem work to come from the criminal settlement. The $2.4 billion infusion into ecosystem restoration work from the criminal settlement comes in addition to civil penalties BP is expected to pay for both Clean Water Act violations and the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA).

Clean Water Act penalties will be directed to Gulf States for economic and ecosystem restoration efforts through provisions of the RESTORE Act. The Natural Resources Damage Assessment involves BP paying for projects that directly mitigate for damage to habitat, fisheries and loss of access to natural resources.  The Louisiana Wildlife Federation and the Vanishing Paradise Campaign worked tirelessly for passage of the RESTORE Act throughout 2011 and early 2012 and continue to work with state and federal officials to identify projects that should receive NRDA dollars.   

Restoration advocates have roundly applauded the Dept. of Justice for including coastal restoration work in the criminal settlement and many believe it is a good indication that Clean Water Act and NRDA penalties will be robust as well.  

-Chris Macaluso, Coastal Outreach Coordinator

Photo Credit: "Breaking Dawn" by Burg Ransom, Friends of Black Bayou Lake NWR

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