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Kathy Castor: BP settlement ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for economic recovery

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Florida, the federal government and other Gulf Coast states announced an agreement on Thursday with oil producer BP to resolve years of legal claims over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The historic resolution, tentatively set at $18.7 billion, will be the largest environmental settlement ever. Payments, to be split among Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas, is in addition to $28 billion BP already spent on clean-up response, remediation and compensation. Florida’s share of the deal could be over $3.25 billion.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, calls the record agreement a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for economic recovery from damages incurred in the Gulf Region during and after the three-month spill.

Castor released this statement:

“Today’s multi-billion dollar settlement provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the Gulf of Mexico and launch a robust environmental and economic recovery for the Gulf region. The settlement is a vital part of holding BP fully accountable for its gross negligence and economic and environmental damage. Workers lost their lives and others lost their livelihoods. I personally met with small business owners, fishermen, hotel operators and tourism industry representatives who suffered tremendously from this catastrophe. Our state and local communities suffered as well.

“One of my top priorities in Congress since the 2010 BP disaster has been to work to return the Gulf of Mexico, its communities and related small businesses to better than they were before the blowout. Implementation of the new RESTORE Act, a law that directs 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties to restoring the Gulf, is central to the Gulf restoration effort. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve the environmental and economic vitality of the Gulf of Mexico with legal proceeds under RESTORE Act and the settlement announced today. The terms of today’s settlement mean that 80 percent of $5.5 billion will be appropriately directed to this restoration effort thanks to the RESTORE Act passed by Congress in 2012.”

Among Castor’s post-spill priorities were adoption of the RESTORE Act, which established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund in the U.S. Treasury. The Act helped fund research, and provided money for economic recovery of businesses impacted by the blowout.

Immediately after the spill, Castor worked to secure $10 million from BP for a rapid research response by the Florida Institute of Oceanography. She also urged BP to give samples of its oil for USF research.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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