MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - During a visit to the Port City on Sunday, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby spoke to FOX10 News about a recent shift in attitude by the Obama Administration on the RESTORE Act.
Shelby specifically mentioned the question of who would control the billions of dollars British Petroleum is expected to pay because of the bill: federal officials or local agencies.
Shelby said the bill was written with locals in mind.
"We structured the legislation so that people in Mobile and Baldwin, the local people: the mayors, the county commission, the governor... various towns, would control it, and that's the way it should be," said the Alabama senator.
Negotiations between the Department of Justice and BP will settle its liability under the Clean Water Act and Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
Eighty percent of the Clean Water Act money will be locally controlled, whereas funds going into the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) will be under federal control.
Senator Shelby said the Obama administration wants a combined settlement with BP that would funnel all the funds through federal control only.
"I think to send it to Washington and let it go through the bureaucracy would be a big mistake. To send it to the states - in my case, it shouldn't go to Montgomery; it should go to Baldwin and Mobile counties," said Shelby.
Shelby says BP has an incentive to go along with this decision because the NRDA funds are tax deductible.
He also says billions of dollars could be owed to Alabama and a settlement could shortchange this region.
When asked if the Obama administration has said that they plan to take money away from the Gulf Coast, Senator Shelby said:
"They don't ever use a phrase like that; they just try to work out a settlement where they can get their hands on the money. Follow the money, you've heard that your whole life," said Shelby.
Shelby and other Alabama officials have written letters to the President and his Attorney General asking them to stick to the law that was signed. Mobile Mayor Sam Jones and Governor Robert Bentley have addressed the possibility of diversion of funds from the RESTORE Act in the past week as well.
Senator Shelby says, he believes that money shifted away from the Gulf Coast would be spent on various bureaucratic ideas.
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