Gulf Coast lawmakers have succeeded in getting a reluctant Congress to award to their communities most of the billions of dollars BP will pay in fines for its role in the 2010 oil spill.
Now they must figure out how to spend that money.
Officials in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have some time to weigh which projects and programs will best help the Gulf Coast recover from the nation’s worst environmental disaster.
The first payments of the estimated $5 billion to $20 billion in fines imposed by the federal government aren’t expected until early next year, after a scheduled civil trial. If a settlement is reached before that, the money could arrive sooner.