Will BP Economic Damage Settlements Be Directed to the Mississippi Coast?
The Mississippi Legislature continues to debate whether the remaining $700 million in economic damages to be paid to the state over the next several years will be directed to the coastal counties that were impacted by the spill. Two bills in the House are under consideration that would determine how the funds will be split between Coast counties and the rest of the State and how those funds would be spent within the Coast counties. House Bill 1512 would create a nine-member Board of Trustees representing Coastal Mississippi to oversee the administration of any BP settlement funds allocated to Hancock, Harrison or Jackson Counties. These funds will be deposited into a special fund designated by the bill as the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund. The legislation also creates a special fund in the State Treasury to be designated as the Mississippi Development Authority Key Programs Fund, which would oversee any funding allocated to other Mississippi counties outside the three coastal counties. A companion Bill, House Bill 1185 is the funding vehicle that will ultimately govern the percentage of the total settlement which will be deposited into the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund for the Coastal counties versus the MDA Key Programs Fund for the other counties in Mississippi. At this point, the general discussion has centered on an 80%/20% split between the Coast and the State respectively, though this is still subject to change.
MWF continues to work to have funds from the Deepwater Horizon spill obligated in a transparent, science based decision making process that ensures those monies are invested in projects and programs that support healthy coastal and marine environments, build the resiliency of our communities, and promote a strong economy.