PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - The eve of our Independence Day has a new meaning in Escambia County.
Commissioner Grover Robinson has declared it 'Congressman Jeff Miller Day,' for the representative's recovery work in the two years following the oil spill.
The mood was light-hearted but the message was clear: thanks to everyone who helped draft the RESTORE act, BP fine money is on its way to the Gulf Coast after passing through both the house and senate.
"All of the counties that have waterfront in my district were affected by the oil spill, and so I went to Washington to make sure they were made as whole as possible after this environmental and economic devastation that took place," said Rep. Miller (R- Florida).
RESTORE Act funds will be made up of entirely BP fines, no taxpayer money. The lump sum will be broken into four pots, the smallest of which goes to restoring the Gulf of Mexico.
The vast majority will be used for economical or environmental growth, or a combination of the two.
"Escambia County could get as much as $100 million," Miller said. "But all along the Gulf Coast states that were affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill will get a piece of 80 percent of the fine that is levied against BP."
Three-quarters of Florida's cut will go to eight counties in the northwest- including Escambia and Santa Rosa- that were directly affected by the spill
The Republican congressman says people are playing it safe in assuming BP will be hit with a $10 billion bill, at least.
"It could be extremely high, because there is no sure way to know exactly how much oil was leaked from that well head," Miller said.
Miller encourages everyone to remain patient, as this money may not be here for a year, or even two, but if you ask county leaders like Grover Robinson, the affected areas will make good use of that time.
"I think allowing us to have time to plan for the future, that's going to be vital to making sure that the plans that we make will be the things that really propel us forward," Robinson said. "This is going to be a real investment in the Gulf Coast, it's going to be an investment in northwest Florida the propels us forward 10, 20, 30 years and I think that's what's going to be exciting about today."
It's up to President Obama to sign the bill, which Miller believes will happen.
According to Miller, the other 20 percent of the BP fine not given to the affected states will go into an 'oil spill recovery trust fund' for future response and recovery.
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