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Florida to Get $3.25 Billion in BP Settlement

Last hours of the Deepwater Horizon
Last hours of the Deepwater Horizon

  BP Settlement

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Florida conservation groups say the BP settlement announced Thursday is a big step forward giving certainty that the funding will be there to restore the Gulf coast.

It comes five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded, releasing almost four billion barrels of oil. BP will pay $18.7 billion to the five states affected; Florida's portion is $3.25 billion.

David Muth, director of gulf restoration with the National Wildlife Federation, says this is completely separate from the billions BP has already spent on the immediate cleanup.

Oil soaked wildlife
Oil soaked wildlife. (origin of photo unknown)

"These monies are for the damage they did to natural resources," says Muth. "So it's not to clean up oil it's to put back what they destroyed. Secondly, it's the punitive fine for violation of the Clean Water Act."

The settlement will have to be approved by the court. The agreement comes as a federal judge was just about to rule on how much BP would have to pay in fines.

Muth says much of the restoration money will go to improve the health of Florida's estuaries, where fresh water meets the sea.

"You have extremely well-vetted planning and science for how to begin to fix that system to restore flows to the Everglades, to restore flows to Florida Bay to better manage the water that comes out of Lake Okeechobee and enters the Gulf," she says.

Most of Florida's settlement will be administered by a five-member board created by the legislature called Triumph Gulf Coast. Eight counties in the panhandle will receive the lion's share of the funding.

Photos/graphics; links; added and updated by the Observer

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