NEW ORLEANS—BP oil spill fines could generate thousands of jobs if the Restore Act passes and those funds are invested in the Gulf Coast, according to a study commissioned by two non-profit groups, Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Walton Family Foundation.
At some point in the future, BP will have to pay fines for violating the Clean Water Act with its disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill, which flooded the Gulf with 4.9 million barrels of oil (more than 200 million gallons) and fouled fisheries and beaches from Louisiana to Florida. Should investigators find that gross negligence on BP’s part contributed to the spill, fines could be assessed as high as $4,300 per barrel spilled. BP’s total fines could ultimately tally up to anywhere between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion.
The new report, researched and compiled by the Mather Economics firm, a business consultancy specializing in applied economics based in Roswell, Georgia, estimated that spending $1.5 billion per year on coastal restoration projects during the next 10 years would create more than 57,000 new jobs.
Under current federal law, fine money collected from BP would automatically go to the U.S. treasury to offset cleanup costs and other damages resulting from future oil spills. Because of unprecedented size and widespread destruction of the spill, however, Gulf Coast states and environmental groups have called for the money to be invested in restoring the Gulf and rehabilitating its damaged ecological systems. The Restore Act, which has received widespread bipartisan support, would send 8 percent of Clean Water Act penalties to the Gulf states.
To expedite passage of the Restore Act, the bill had to be added as an amendment to a pending transportation bill. The House and Senate, however, have not yet reached an agreement on a final version of the bill, but negotiations continue.