Florida politicians still hoping to fund oil spill restoration from BP claims

09/19/11 Janelle Irwin
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Parts of Florida’s Gulf Coast still need to be restored following last year’s devastating Deepwater Horizon disaster. On a conference call this afternoon, some current and former politicians marked the one-year anniversary of BP’s Macondo well being permanently sealed.

Former Governor and Senator Bob Graham is the co-chair of the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He recommended that 80% of the fines and penalties be given directly to Florida instead of the United States treasury for Gulf coast restoration.

"The responsible parties which are probably going to be, definitely going will be BP, and probably will also be Trans Ocean, the owner of the rig Deepwater Horizon, and Halliburton, the company responsible for pouring the cement which ultimately failed and became a major contributant to the explosion. What those fines are going to be is yet to be determined, but there is an estimate that generally falls between 10 and 20 billion dollars."

Charlie Crist was Florida’s governor at the time of the BP oil spill. He wanted to ensure Florida was reimbursed for lost revenue to areas along the Gulf of Mexico. Crist said while BP shelled out $90 million for a campaign to boost their image, Floridians from coast to coast suffered from more than just tar balls.

"I think it's important that Florida understands not only the horrific environmental damage that the oil disaster caused. It clearly paralyzed our already fragile economy and just as Florida was beginning to recover from that economic downturn of course this disaster occurs. And brought with it a downturn in tourism and sales of other types, hit the seafood industry very hard."

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor co-founded the Gulf Coast Caucus along with Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana and has filed legislation to further restoration efforts in areas impacted by the spill. She recognized both Graham and Crist for their efforts to restore Florida’s economy and called on current Governor Rick Scott to join their efforts.

"Our new Governor has said last April as he was in the panhandle marking the one-year anniversary, said that he'll trust BP to do the right thing and he's been reluctant to pursue legal action. so I really want to call on Governor Scott today to just be as proactive as possible on behalf of the state of Florida and all of its residents and small business owners."

Senator Graham said Florida could receive anywhere from eight to sixteen billion dollars to compensate revenue losses throughout Florida.

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