BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fines Could Turn Into Jobs Boon

Pelicans take flight near rocks blanketed with oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Queen Bess Island near Grand Isle, Louisiana June 11, 2010.

Pelicans take flight near rocks blanketed with oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Queen Bess Island near Grand Isle, Louisiana June 11, 2010. (Photo: REUTERS / Lee Celano)

Originally published on Business & Law.

By: By PIERRE BERTRAND

The 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill may prove to be a jobs booster for the region, if money paid in damages is spent to restore the Gulf’s coast. That’s according to an independent study by  Mather Economics.

BP stands to pay billions of dollars in environmental fines under the Clean Water Act, and if some of that money is reinvested into the region, as the Restore Act currently pending in Congress would mandate, 58,000 new jobs could be created for regional wetlands restoration projects in the next 10 years. 

The jobs will be a boon to a region that has been fighting off the taint associated with the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, and is trying to slow down the erosion of its wetlands. Five million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf in a few months’ time beginning in April 2010. Some of that oil washed up on the shores of several Gulf states including Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

After a massive cleanup, the region has been avidly promoting itself as one of the premier tourist destinations in the country. BP itself said it would dedicate $92 million over three years to promoting the region.

But while the region’s economies are recovering, the wetlands are not — a process that began well before the oil spill.

The Gulf Restoration Network, a grassroots organization dedicated to the restoration of the area’s wetlands, said roughly 397,000 acres of freshwater wetlands were lost between 1998 and 2004, and more is lost thanks to rising ocean levels, the construction of canals for the oil and gas industry, oil spills, and the encroachment of urban centers. These same wetlands help support the area’s wildlife and fisheries, and if they go, so too does a staple of the Gulf’s economy — fishing — which provides 25 to 35 percent of the nation’s total catch, said Mather…

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