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Environment

Environmentalists Say State Should Get To Work On Plan Following BP Ruling

2010 Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spoil in the Gulf of Mexico.
2010 Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spoil in the Gulf of Mexico.
2010 Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spoil in the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit SkyTruth / Creative Commons
2010 Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spoil in the Gulf of Mexico.

A federal judge ruled Thursday BP was grossly negligent in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The ruling could result in billions of dollars in fines.

Environmentalists in state said this means the state should get to work on a plan on how to restore Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Under federal law, 80 percent of the money collected from fines levied against BP and others must be directed to protect and restore the natural resources and economies harmed along the Gulf Coast.

That means a lot of money is likely to be directed at Florida.

Julie Wraithmell with Audubon Florida said the money won’t be flowing in immediately, but state officials should be prepared.

“It does mean though, and it adds additional urgency to the importance of Florida pulling together and working to development a gulf restoration plan for Florida’s coast,” she said. “That will help make sure that when the restoration dollars do start flowing, we are prepared to spend them effectively.”

Wraithmell said there are a lot of stakeholders and experts with good ideas about how to best spend restoration funds. However, there’s currently no framework in place.

Wraithmell said funding should focus on projects aimed at restoring the hardest hit areas of Florida’s Gulf Coast, which include wildlife, habitat and water. 

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