Three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill soiled the Gulf of Mexico and left lasting impacts not fully understood some of the money from BP fines trickled into Gulf County.
None of the dollars traveled through the RESTORE Act, federal legislation aimed at distributing monies to impacted states.
The county’s RESTORE Committee was well ahead of the game in considering projects to be funded, when and if funding actually arrived, but still faced examination of projects costing more than $60 million without a clue how much the county could receive under RESTORE.
Other forms paid off.
The city of Port St. Joe and the Gulf County School Board each settled with BP on individual lawsuits – the city received nearly $600,000 – but the Board of County Commissioners declined an offer from BP and is currently litigating against BP.
Port St. Joe city commissioners intend to conduct a public workshop to consider how to spend its funds, with $10,000 already donated to the Port of Port St. Joe.
Through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), the county received several million dollars for projects including construction of a fishing pier at WindMark Beach and improvements to boat ramps at Frank Pate Park, Highland View and Indian Pass.
County Commissioner Warren Yeager continues as an officer for the Gulf Consortium, a lobbying arm of the impacted states seeking redress of impacts, and working toward tying up U.S. Treasury rules for RESTORE distribution.
The dollars intended to make the Gulf states whole from the cataclysm of 2010, however, are arriving far less briskly than the oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.