“Restoration” Projects Announced: BP Boondoggles Beginning?

After yesterday’s announcement by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal of $340 million in largely worthy restoration projects, we were waiting for the other shoe to drop.Today it did. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced nearly $100 million in coastal “restoration” projects. The biggest ticket project is “Gulf State Park Enhancements” including construction of a lodge and meeting facility. The money for these projects is from the BP Natural Resource Damage Assesment early restoration initiative, which is legally required to be used to mitigate against lost ecosystem services or human use of those ecosystem services. It’s going to take quite a bit of legal contortion to fit Alabama’s beach-front hotel and conference center through those requirements.We applaud the barrier island restoration measures Louisiana has secured funding for, as well as Alabama’s oyster reef restoration, and think the living shorelines approach of the Weeks Bay Swift Tract project holds promise as well. But a beach front boondoggle built on a state park is an outrageous use of these critical funds.With Alabama’s announcement, BP is now half way to it’s promised $1 billion in early restoration. We certainly hope the next announcement actual restores the natural resources of the Gulf, because it’s clear that BP’s oil is still poisoning our coast and communities.There will be a public comment period for all these projects, and we’ll share that information with you here, but in the interim, take action here to tell the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council that beach-front boondoggles or any non-restoration projects should not be included in their comprehensive restoration plan.Aaron Viles is GRN’s Deputy Director. You can follow him on twitter here.

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