GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) - BILLIONS IN FINES… WITH A CATCH
BP is on the hook for billions of dollars in fines for 2010's oil spill. Under the Restore Act 80 percent of that money would come back unencumbered to the affected states.
But a rumored proposal with the Justice Department would split the fines. Some would still go to the Restore Act, but the rest of the fines would go into Natural Resource Damage Assessment or NRDA.
The catch, NRDA money can't be used for economic recovery; it can only be used for habitat restoration.
Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said, "We were damaged economically more than environmentally on our portion of the coast. Moving it to NRDA takes away that economic recovery opportunity, and that would be devastating to our community."
Mayor Craft told us if the Restore Act is not held up Alabama's Gulf Coast could lose millions.
"What they wouldn't see is infrastructure improvements. They wouldn't see new roads, new bridges, new support for the tourism industry," Craft said. "It may still be as much as $20 billion, but it won't be as effective for Alabama, Mississippi, or Texas, because we would get way less money than we would get otherwise."
FINES TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
And why would BP want to pay some of the money into NRDA? It turns out NRDA money would be tax deductible.
The rumored settlement has many of our state leaders up in arms. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, U.S. Representative Jo Bonner, and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley have all spoken out against this settlement.
Mayor Craft hopes the politicians in Washington get a good settlement and don't let the money be diverted from where it's needed.
"It is a significant opportunity for us to recover and our small businesses to gain livelihood again," Craft said.
A press conference with the state's top politicians is being set up to rally support behind the restore act. When the details are announced we'll let you know
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