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Louisiana Won't See Any BP Settlement Funds Before 2017

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EPA
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Louisiana’s share of the $18.7 billion BP settlement is of intense interest to the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. But director Chip Kline told the board Wednesday that most details are remain under wraps.

“Some of us are still under a confidentiality agreement as this thing plays out, so there’s only so much that we can discuss,” Kline explained, by way of apologizing for not being more forthcoming.

CPRA staffer Alyson Graugnard was able to give a timeline of the next steps, now than an agreement-in-principle has been reached.

“We have a draft consent decree, and also an assessment and restoration plan that will be worked on over the next couple of months. That will go out for public comment and review,” Graugnard explained. “Once there’s a final document, it will go to the court, and we’re hoping to have some sort of finalized settlement for February of 2016.”

But state Rep. Gordon Dove of Houma wants to know when the money is going to start flowing.

“The money—is that immediately, or what’s the timeline on that?” asked Dove, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee.

Graugnard said the settlement will come in 16 installments, starting one year after the decree is finalized –in other words, in early 2017.

CPRA board member Windell Curole wondered, “You have any indication how the payout’s gonna be?”

“You get one payment in year one,” Graugnard said. “In year two and three there won’t be any payments. BP has other obligations and other payments that they will be making, so after year three, they’ll be even payments until 2033.”

Kline cautions this isn’t a pot of play money, and it cannot be frittered away.

“The majority of the dollars are going to be spent in the most impacted areas. They’re going to be spent to address an injury associated with the spill,” Kline said, warningly. “But you are going to see projects that are funded that are priorities within our coastal master plan.”

Kline added, “You’re also going to see these dollars spread across the entire coast, because the entire coast was impacted as a result of this spill.”

CPRA will open discussion of the restoration plan at the August meeting.