BP settlement is ‘Christmas in July’ for Coast cities, counties, schools and attorneys

“I’m sure that there will be some spent in other places,” said State Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, But he and other Coast legislatures are fighting against that. “I’m of the belief that the money really should be spent in the bottom three counties,” he said.

Sen. Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, said the Coast delegation is working with leadership in the House, Senate and with the governor’s office to dedicate the $750 million to bringing a bigger return for the Coast.

For instance, he said if $80 million in federal highway money were available for the Popp’s Ferry Bridge, the local match might be $20 million. The improvements would be a life-safety issue to help with evacuation and allow more maritime traffic to pass to the Industrial seaway, creating an economic development opportunity. “To me that’s a good investment,” he said.

The $750 million is just economic damages, he said. “$1.5 billion will be spent on restoring and rejuvenating our ecosystems and our environment down here.”

Proposed projects are expensive and DeLano said, “We could spend this money very quickly. I want to make sure that we just spend that money wisely.”

People are going to be watching how Mississippi and the other states use the money — “and they should,” DeLano said. “You’d better believe we’re going to have some accountability measures put in place.”

The money also will create jobs. Said DeLano: “We want these to be local jobs and this money to be turned over within the Coastal economy,”

Sun Herald
7/27/15