GAUTIER, Mississippi — The GoCoast 2020 Commission, a distinguished group of south Mississippi movers and shakers who will help steer millions in BP oil spill fine money, has announced three “listening sessions” this week, beginning Tuesday night in Jackson County.
The first meeting will be held Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Jackson County campus in the Fine Arts Auditorium.
The Harrison County meeting will be Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Long Beach Community Center at 20257 Daugherty Road.
Hancock County meeting will be Thursday from 6-8 at the Bay St. Louis Community Hall at 301 Blaize Avenue.
The meetings are designed to provide an update on the progress of the GoCoast 2020 Commission and provide an additional opportunity for the public to make comments and ask questions.
GoCoast 2020 was established by Governor Phil Bryant through executive order to serve as the official advisory board for the allocation of funds received by the State of Mississippi under the RESTORE Act and to create a long-range planning strategy for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Under the RESTORE Act, championed by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi, among many others, 80 percent of Clean Water Act violation fines and penalties paid by BP and other responsible parties in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will go to Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Texas.
Trudy Fisher, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality who is leading GoCoast 2020, said earlier that there is no RESTORE money right now, “but when there is,” she said, “we’ll be ready.”
It has been estimated that there is the potential to receive $5 million to $20 billion in fines.
The five Gulf states split 35 percent of the fine money, 60 percent is directed to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and 5 percent to research.