Gulf Coast leaders have begun planning how to use millions of dollars from the RESTORE Act recently passed by Congress. The money comes from fines BP will have to pay because of damage caused by the oil spill. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports.
“… to maintain the emphasis… we want that money spent here on local contractors and local employees. Thank y’all so much for your work…”
Mississippi’s 4th district Congressman Steven Palazzo told city and county officials in Gulfport Friday they will be the leaders in deciding how the hundreds of millions of dollars from the RESTORE Act will be spent.
“This is the billion dollar question. What can that money be used for? ”
That’s Trudy Fisher, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. She was appointed by the Governor to lead the team guiding Mississippi’s use of RESTORE Act money.
“There are some general categories. Ecological restoration, mitigating damage and restoration of fish, wildlife and natural resources. There’s promoting seafood, ecotourism, economic development, including port infrastructure, workforce development and job creation.”
State leaders say jobs created by the RESTORE Act do not have to be directly tied to environmental projects. Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security Mark Henry is a member of the Governor’s team guiding the process.
“I think this would be an opportunity for us to assess the workforce needs on the coast. To try to gear the training and workforce development to those needs that are here for now and for the future.”
Leaders are already outlining plans for RESTORE Act money, estimated at between $5 and $20 billion, to be divided among five Gulf Coast states.
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