Gulf Coast recovery ongoing

Published 3:37 pm Friday, December 21, 2012

“It’s good the Council is being proactive and working on planning so that when money becomes available we will be ready to start addressing the projects to help restore the Gulf, and that’s the mindset of our state council as well,” said Commissioner Guy, who served on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. “Still,” Guy continued, “as the Governor points out, we don’t know when the money will come to the states because the Clean Water Act is not a state claim; it is a federal claim only. That’s not to say we haven’t been involved in discussions with them. We hope to have as much input as possible, but the federal government can settle that claim at any time with or without notice to us.

“After the election, there was the criminal penalty settlement (BP agreed to pay $4 billion over five years), which kind of came unexpectedly. It’s the same scenario here. In my opinion, they gave up some of our leverage when they settled the criminal claim without settling the Clean Water Act civil claim as well.”

Commissioner Guy said each Gulf Coast state was impacted by the oil spill in some way, but there should be no priority given to one type of injury over another. He said despite the differences, all states are similarly affected by what happens in the Gulf.

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Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said no matter how well the Alabama Gulf Coast has rebounded, there is lingering damage from the oil spill.

“We still have issues related to backwater areas and the future and reputation of the Gulf with all the dispersants that are out there,” Mayor Craft said. “There are questions among our visitors that have expressed ongoing concerns. We have a lot of businesses that have not have been properly compensated for their losses. Some of them went out of business, and some of these family businesses are impossible to replace.

“The whole thing is that if we don’t protect and sustain our environment then we have no economy. Our entire economy is based on a clean, safe and usable environment.”