75 percent of BP settlement money staying on the Coast

The Senate bill designed to give 75 percent of the BP oil spill damages settlement fund to the Gulf Coast passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. Locals are excited to see what this money is going to do for our area.

The fate of almost $700 million has been up in the air for some time now so this decision has been a relief to many. Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce CEO Adele Lyons is among Coast leaders who have been watching Bill 2002 with a close eye. “It’s definitely been a one Coast effort in the business community. Everybody coming together and working with our legislative delegation both in the Senate and the House and everybody’s working off the same page now and that’s important and I think that’s where we’re going to see the difference.”

The Senate floor action went smoothly with the vote to get this decision of 75 percent for the Gulf Coast. Many lawmakers from outside of South Mississippi attempted to amend the bill, but failed. The other 25 percent of the funds will go to other projects that will benefit the entire state.

The bill passed with a vote of 42 to 8 without any amendments that could steer this money away from the Gulf Coast and this 75 percent could really help where the damages occurred. “The intent is for projects that would really bring forth economic development, job creation. They’ll be things that can transform the Coast and that we would see a difference in 10 and 20 and 30 years from now. We’re looking for projects that really make a huge difference on how the Gulf Coast looks and operates in the future,” said Lyons.

The Chamber of Commerce remains hopeful this money will help the Gulf Coast continue the growth and recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. “Certainly Katrina and the oil spill had some similarities. I think we’ve been on our road to recovery for a good period of time and then part of the bump in the road was the BP oil spill. If this could be wrapped up today it certainly is a great day for the Gulf Coast.”

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