Money from the Deepwater Horizon settlement could become available in early 2017 and a state agency has released a more fine-tuned list of projects officials are considering for funding.
Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Executive Director Kyle Graham said the Wednesday list of projects was just the next step in determining what coastal projects could qualify for funding.
“There’s a tremendous amount of additional work to get this defined,” Graham said.
CPRA’s probable list includes 25 projects, such as marsh creation, barrier island work, improvements to bird habitats on Cat Island and diversions to increase water flow to the Atchafalaya River and into Terrebonne Parish marshes.
“I know this will change,” Graham said of the list. “But I also think it’s important to let people see where we are.”
One of the next steps will be the completion of a damage assessment plan along the Gulf of Mexico, which is expected to be completed by October.
Earlier this year, the state announced an agreement in principal with BP that could bring $6.8 billion to the state with $5 billion going toward repairing places damaged by the spill and $787 million for Clean Water Act penalties. The money would be paid in 15 installments over the next 16 years.
The settlement is expected to be finalized early next year and the funding will become available a year after that.
In addition, there is about $1.2 billion in criminal penalties that is being handled by the National Fish and Wildlife Federation as grants to affected states. The federation has already granted Louisiana funding approval for several barrier island and river diversion projects.
Because the money in these funding streams is being handled in grants over the next 15 years or so, there will be a lot of chance for public input, Graham said.
Officials also will need to decide whether to make financial arrangements to secure future funding to allow money to be used sooner on large projects. In addition, Louisiana is expected to receive an increase in offshore royalties from oil and gas beginning in 2017, and those funds could be applied to the larger projects to move forward.
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