Who gets the BP money? Keeping settlement out of the hands of politicians is a good idea
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 23, 2012 | 2281 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is unlikely that Alabama environmentalists were surprised when Gov. Robert Bentley revealed that until last week he had never heard of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Environmental issues have not been high on the governor’s agenda.

At least not until it was announced that the NFWF was going to decide how to spend the $335 million Alabama will receive from the BP criminal case settlement.

“Why the government chose them, I have no idea,” the governor told the Mobile Press-Register. “I don’t even know who they are.”

Well, Bentley had better find out. If this settlement is approved, he will hear a lot from what is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations for wildlife conservation because the NFWF will be calling most of the shots on the Gulf Coast.

Although the governor finds this arrangement “unbelievable,” it should come as a relief to environmentalists, who generally have been cut out of discussions and left off committees where projects to be funded from the BP settlement were determined.

Keep in mind that this payment is from the criminal case just settled and that the outcome of the civil case is yet to

be determined. Plus, the amount to be distributed by NFWF could be only a fraction of the final


Also keep in mind that under the Restore Act, 80 percent of the civil settlement will be divided among the states harmed by the spill.

And remember that the State of Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, which will parcel out that money, does not have a single representative from the environmental community on it. It could be that this money from the criminal case will be all (or, at the very least, most) of what will be spent on restoring the Gulf Coast environment.

Keeping this money out of the hands of political and business interests is not a bad idea. They will get their share soon enough.

Meanwhile, Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the NFWF, announced that they “will work collaboratively with government and private sector stakeholders to ensure that these funds are spent effectively and transparently to achieve the best possible outcomes for the Gulf ecosystem, consistent with the terms of the settlement.”

To accomplish this, he added, “We will rely on our established, science-based strategy for identifying and selecting appropriate projects to receive funding.”

Now, there is a novel idea. A “science-based strategy” rather than a business model or political patronage.

Things are looking up for the Gulf Coast.
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