$134 million to go to Deepwater Horizon restoration projects

Coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, federal and state trustees have announced their tentative approval of 10 natural resource “early restoration” projects in the Gulf region, costing an estimated $134 million from the pool of $1 billion that BP set aside for such projects. Of the $134 million in newly released monies, the largest amount—$45 million—would fund a project aimed at restoring habitat for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, an endangered species whose nesting areas have been harmed. Turtles are also frequently caught up as bycatch by shrimpers, and part of the funding would be used to reduce this bycatch. Another $30 million of the $134 million would go to restoring shorelines and reefs in Mississippi bays and estuaries, while $20.6 million would go to restoring bird rookeries along the Texas coast. The early restoration program is part of a much larger natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) process triggered in the wake of the oil spill by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. About $700 million from the early restoration funding provided by BP has been allocated previously, but not all of those projects have begun yet.