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BP Oil Spill Lawsuit Cites Alabama’s “Shocking Misuse” Of Restoration Funds

January 27th, 2016

An environmental activist group filed a complaint seeking to block Alabama officials from using funds from the BP oil spill lawsuit settlement to build a new hotel and convention center complex. Gulf Restoration Network of New Orleans filed a BP oil spill lawsuit in 2014, citing the “shocking misuse” of funds earmarked for wetland restoration. State officials announced plans to use the funds to build a new conference center in Gulf Shores, which would replace a previous facility on the same site.

Details of the BP Oil Spill Lawsuit

The Gulf Restoration lawsuit cites the $58 million Alabama state officials received as their part of the BP oil spill lawsuit settlement. Officials with the state tourism board announced that they would use the proceeds from the BP oil spill lawsuit to build a new hotel and convention center to replace a lodge that had been destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The suit also names the state’s Department of Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Interior Department as defendants.

BP Oil Spill Lawsuit Claims Violation of Settlement Terms

The BP oil spill lawsuit claims that using the restoration funds for building a new convention center violates the terms of the settlement. The suit also claims that the restoration funds were to be applied toward restoring the wetlands devastated by the 2010 oil spill. According to the complaint filed with the BP oil spill lawsuit, the group maintains that the plan for a new hotel and convention center will do nothing to “restore, rehabilitate, replace or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources or services.”

BP Oil Spill Lawsuit Targets Government Agencies

One of the reasons the group’s BP oil spill lawsuit targets federal authorities lies in their role as trustees of the settlement agreement. The complaint also states that the federal agencies “do not even try to explain how building a convention center qualifies as a restoration project.” An attorney representing Gulf Restoration told reporters that one of the objectives of the group’s BP oil spill lawsuit would be to encourage the federal agencies to “take a serious look at other alternatives for how to spend” the settlement funds.

BP Oil Spill Lawsuit Seeks To Restore Wetlands

Another aim of the environmentalists’ BP oil spill lawsuit is to channel some or all of the funds toward restoring the state’s devastated wetlands. The attorney representing the Gulf Restoration group told reporters that the BP oil spill lawsuit settlement funds should be spent on “actual restoration of habitats (and) wetlands,” along with “other recreational facilities, and snorkel reefs.” U.S. District Judge Charles Butler has taken the case under advisement, but has not specified a date for when he would announce his decision.

Sources: NOLA.com
WTVM-TV

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